OPINION: US News & World Report: Upton: Curing Disease With A Little Help From Our Friends

March 6, 2014

Upton Outlines Vision for Accelerating Cures with the Help of Modern Technologies

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has a track record of bipartisan success in approving legislation to advance and improve public health, with eight health laws enacted in the 113th Congress alone. Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has said, “Health care is first and foremost about providing the highest quality of care for patients, and this ultimately means greater innovation and more medical breakthroughs from our nation’s top minds.” This must begin by creating a research and regulatory environment that takes advantage of 21st century technology. As Chairman Upton writes, “Today, these three disciplines – medicine, computers and social networks – have an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate as friends in a new way to help all of us to live longer, healthier lives.”

March 5, 2014

Upton: Curing Disease With A Little Help From Our Friends

It has been nearly 50 years since the Beatles released their hit, “A Little Help from My Friends.” Yet decades later, the message is still timely, offering advice for an unexpected audience: a medical research apparatus that remains in the Sgt. Pepper era.

In the 1960s, we understood disease based on clinical symptoms – the size of a tumor or a white cell count. As a result, drug approvals were – and largely still are – based on a static, impersonal paradigm of evaluating symptoms.

Fast forward to today, when the most exciting medical breakthroughs evaluate indications of illness at the molecular level. For example, what proteins or enzymes trigger the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells? We can now design drugs or even use the body’s immune system to target these molecular troublemakers and shut them down. We can also use granular-level biochemistry to take early detection to a whole new level, identifying and treating defective genetic structures even before they produce clinical symptoms.

As these miraculous medical advances have taken place, computers and social networks have undergone their own revolution. Back when Sgt. Pepper was released, people lined up at stores to listen to or buy the record, rather than simply downloading it to their iPhone. No one envisioned the growth and transformation in computing power or the spread of web-based interconnection. Patients, doctors and scientists are now linked like never before.

Today, these three disciplines – medicine, computers and social networks – have an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate as friends in a new way to help all of us to live longer, healthier lives. Yet this progress will never be fully realized if U.S. regulatory policies remain stuck in the Sgt. Pepper era. …

Read the complete piece online here.

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