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Clinical Observations Can Change Research Failures Into Successes

Maurie Markman, MD
Published: Tuesday, Oct 24, 2017
Maurie Markman, MD

Maurie Markman, MD
One of the basic tenets of scientific investigation is the development of a hypothesis that is then tested in an attempt to prove or disprove its validity. In the clinical cancer domain, basic laboratory observations are followed by clinically relevant translational research strategies and, ultimately, human trials. In the history of clinical cancer investigation, there are many elegant examples of basic laboratory research or mathematical modeling studies that resulted, through the conduct of clinical trials, in major paradigm changes in how cancer is managed.

However, perhaps even more interesting in the history of cancer care advances are examples where insightful translational laboratory investigation in the wake of unanticipated severe drug toxicities or “failed” research efforts has led to the discovery a novel biological explanation that in turn was translated into an important change in disease management.

Perhaps the most poignant example of this turnaround was the profound tragedy associated with thalidomide intake during pregnancy that led to a strikingly favorable outcome for patients with multiple myeloma through the development of an extremely important class of antineoplastic agents.1

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