Sunday, 12 July 2009

From research to treatment

A child is dying of malaria in an African village. Medication available is minimal. Of what possible use is the most recent research being carried out in a distant university or research institute when what is needed is immediate and appropriate health care?

Yet, without past research we would not know about the antimalarial activities of peptide antibiotics isolated from fungi, as reported by Nagaraj, Uma, Shivayogi and Balaram in an American Society of Microbiology publication, and freely available from the Indian Institute of Science’s repository. We would not know about a recent study on the role of rapid diagnostic tests in managing malaria, published in PLoS Medicine. Nothing would emerge to improve the treatment of malaria in the future.

There is a chain of communication in health knowledge, stretching from the primary research publication, through the development and application, through publications that ‘translate’ the knowledge appropriately for health care workers and on to the treatment of those in need. This is discussed in a recent publication by three EPT Trustees, Chan, Arunachalam and Kirsop, in the Open Medicine journal. The authors argue that if the first link in the chain is broken, the development of essential new treatments will not take place. They show that free and open access to the latest research findings is critical for the exchange and sharing of research findings that will accelerate new treatments.

The Open Medicine journal is a non-profit open access journal that encourages the free use of published reports and data. Its mission is to ‘facilitate the equitable global dissemination of high-quality health research within the health community; to promote international dialogue and collaboration on health issues; to improve clinical practice; and to expand and deepen the understanding of health and health care’.

No comments: