The renowned US academic journal Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hosted a webinar on 10 February entitled "Denmark: Better, Faster, Stronger – Leading the Way in Translational Medicine", writes region newspaper Nordjyske Stiftstidende.
The webinar panel, which included two Danish professors, discussed how Denmark promotes research in translational research, and how it strengthens the bonds between academic institutions and industry in order to provide fertile environment for innovation and the practical application of new discoveries.
One example highlighted in the webinar of what Danish research in translational medicine has already achieved concerned cancer treatment. A cross-disciplinary team of doctors, biologists and biochemists at Copenhagen University and the National Hospital has identified that a specific protein (TIMP1) blocks the effect of certain types of chemotherapy. So if for example a woman has a breast cancer which contains the TIMP1 protein, she will be offered an alternative form of treatment. This is being seen as an important step in moving treatment away from mass-produced medicines towards a personally customised treatment approach that takes the individual's biology and disease profile into account.
The hope is that translational medicine can shorten the length and cost of drug development. One of the webinar panelists, Professor Lars Arendt-Nielsen of Aalborg University, commented: "Today it takes 10 to 15 years and costs around DKK 5bn (USD 910m) to develop a new analgesic. In Denmark we have developed a technological platform for testing new drugs in for example the pain area, so that at a very early stage one can determine whether the drug has an analgesic effect and predict which patients it will work in. That will shorten the development time, improve the chances for success and optimise the potential of the medicine. We are currently seeing massive interest from the international pharmaceutical industry in these technologies."
Another webinar participant, Dr. Peter Kurtzhals of Danish healthcare giant Novo Nordisk, commented: "In Denmark we have good examples of how the collaboration between academic research, clinical research and industry has led to the development of new medicinal products that have made a significant difference to individual citizens and society as a whole."