Posted by Sharon Schendel on Sep 16, 2018
Matt Kurth has built on his experience as a physician-scientist working neurodegenerative diseases to advise a number of companies on drug development and clinical trial design.  At the September 13, 2018 meeting, Matt discussed how clinical trials of therapeutic compounds that are conducted in order to gain Food and Drug Administration approval are important for ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs used to treat a range of diseases. During his presentation Matt outlined the different phases of clinical testing- Phase 1 through Phase 4. Drugs are first tested in Phase I trials involving only a few dozen patients to determine the effective dose and can progress up to Phase 3 in which thousands of patients are enrolled, often at the cost of up to $50,000 per trial subject. Such testing, together with the high failure rate of drug development, contribute to the high costs of drug research. Matt highlighted examples of the “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” of current therapeutics. Among “The Good” are personalized medicines, such as those used in certain cancers that consider a patient’s genetic makeup and advances in treatments for autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular diseases. For “The Bad”, effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Diseases are lacking, vaccination rates remain less than ideal, and the incidence of drug resistant bacteria is increasing while the number of new antibiotics is small. Finally, “The Ugly” is that millions of Americans still lack reliable access to basic health care services, which drives up the costs for the entire population.  Matt's presentation is the first in a series of vocational presentations. If you're interested in presenting on your vocation, email Vocational Chair Dan Smargon.