Thursday, October 04, 2007

Brain disease research not necessarily wise spending choice?

It's not every day that you will hear someone say in a publication aimed at scientists that spending a whole lot more money on research may
not be such a hot idea. But when the topic is brain diseases, some careful reflection is called for, says Glenn McGee is the director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College. He makes an interesting admission:
So-called targeted drug discovery, already highly complex and difficult, is made much more difficult in brain disorders by the fact that we rarely know what is actually "wrong" in a brain disorder. If you don't know the "target," your odds of hitting it diminish to the level of, well, predicting the stock market. This makes me wonder if spending more on brain research will lead to any more products, given that we already spend millions with little result. So even though research constitutes only a miniscule fraction of the social costs of brain research, making that fraction any bigger could be equivalent to throwing our research dollars in the trash, when we could spend them on dozens of diseases - such as those of the heart, kidneys, and liver - for which drug discovery has been fruitful.

Well, I bet the combox over there at the Scientist is filling fast ...


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