Do we have to accept that we are stuck in disease definition silos?

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Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

Studying mechanisms allow you to escape the artificial constraints of disease definitions.

A lot of networks of effector molecules are shared by different diseases. These overlaps are not simple and straightforward, but you would not expect them to be.

We are now able to better characterise this complexity with approaches such as machine learning and topographical analysis.

This makes the potential to look across diseases for common mechanisms that can be addressed by new or existing medicines all that more feasible.

There is however a problem.

The problem is that when it comes to big paradigm-shifting ideas like finding new disease cross-cutting blockbuster medicines, the social aspects of science lag behind the technology.

Breaking out of disease definition silos will require a high degree of interaction between different disciplines and stakeholders.

Yet we struggle to achieve highly interactive collaborations within disease domains.

What is the reason for this?

It certainly is not the technology. I also cannot believe it is something mundane such as not liking researchers from other fields, or a barrier created by jargon.

Is it that everyone fears they will not fulfil more immediate needs like the need to publish and the need to get funding?

Is it the myth that small focused teams are more productive?

Or, is it that paradigms just need time to shift? If this is the case do we have to accept that delay? 

What do you think needs to happen for research and development to focus more on cross disease mechanisms?

Scott Wagers

"The Consortium Whisperer" Physician and researcher who has spent the last 12 years engaged in developing biomedical R&D consortia, as well as designing and supporting the delivery of consortium based projects.

No matter who you are, you can, and you should innovate through consortia. They are the only way to make a big difference to the future of medicine. Want to find out how? Get in touch.