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Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure
by Susan Quinn
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0738201820, Hardcover)Human Trials tells the life story of an unusually dedicated contemporary scientist who strove to revolutionize his field with his innovative ideas, and whose story is far from over.
Susan Quinn, biographer of Marie Curie and Karen Horney, focuses here on Dr. Howard Weiner and his belief in oral tolerance--"the long-held observation of systemic hyporesponsiveness to an antigen fed prior to immunization." He believes that compounds based on oral tolerance can be used to successfully treat autoimmune diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis. His attempts to prove this belief and bring such a compound to market are told as representative of what all scientists, investors, and patients involved in drug discovery must endure. This approach yields interesting observations regarding clinical trials in general. Most notable among them is that the trials are designed to treat large populations in the future rather than the individuals enrolled in them today.
Human Trials is a heartbreaking book. All the characters--the researchers in Dr. Weiner's laboratory, the executives in his fledgling biotech company, and especially the patients he treats--are sympathetic, and there are no happy endings for any of them. But Dr. Weiner still believes in his idea and is still toiling to prove it. Let's hope that one day we will read about how he fulfilled his life's ambition and cured MS. --Diana M. Gitig
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:46 -0400)
Over fifty million people suffer from some form of autoimmune disease--multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, and other afflictions in which the body attacks itself--none of them with a lasting cure. Susan Quinn has investigated the worlds where new autoimmune drugs are being developed: the research labs, the drug-company boardrooms, and the clinics where patients become "subjects" in the search for new medicines and treatments. Her story is one of real people: fiercely competing scientists, ambitious venture capitalists, and, anxious, sick human beings. She takes the reader inside these otherwise closed worlds, into the lead investigator's diaries, the tense closed-door meetings with investors, and the hopeful or heart-rending encounters in doctor's offices. Hers is the archetypal story of all medical research: the roller-coaster trip from the lab bench to the medicine cabinet, in which only a very few new drugs and treatments survive. Susan Quinn catches the hopes, triumphs, and crushing failures, the greed and the idealism in these dramatic human trials.
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