The drug development marathon

Image: Timeline of clinical trial testing

Development of a new drug typically takes a decade or more at a cost approaching a billion dollars, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America. The steps and representative time frames are shown above. While a radical new approach such as RNA interference may add even more uncertainty to this lengthy process, proponents say that pre-clinical testing may end up being quicker than for more traditional drugs. That's because RNAi work can exploit new genomic knowledge and high-throughput technologies to target genes whose role in disease is well understood.

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