1. Personal perspective of the future of epidemiological research
Epidemiology is a wide and diverse field that requires a researcher to narrow down to one of the several paths. My perspective of the future epidemiological research has to do with medical research. There are several emerging infectious and noninfectious disease that continue to threaten the very existence of the human race. Of particular interest, the so called lifestyle disease such as cardiovascular disorders, cancer, diabetes, obesity and many others, have an immense impact on the quality of human life due to the fact that many reports indicate that the prevalence of these diseases (once thought to be diseases of old age) among the young is steadily increasing. There is need to sustain research on new emergent diseases as that would help us prepare for the diseases because lack of knowledge on these diseases could be catastrophic in the event of an epidemic. The cure, management and prevention of the new emergent diseases lie in the identification and the understanding of causal agents. While new causal agents cause some of the emergent diseases, mutations of genes in the existing agents may lead to the development of the new diseases. As such, there is need to continue researching on new causal agents with an intention of understanding emerging diseases and thus unravel the treatment, management and prevention strategies.
Finally, medical research ought to focus on the development of new drugs that would not only be used in the management of the emerging diseases but also those that would be used in the management of the existing diseases. Identification and characterization of emergent diseases and new causal agents calls for the development of new drugs to deal with the emerging diseases. In addition, the prolonged use of the drugs developed decades ago has resulted in the development and spread of drug resistance hence the reduction in the efficacy of these drugs. In addition, an effective treatments for many diseases such as HIV/AIDS, many forms of cancer, cardiovascular disorders and others have been establish. As a result there is, need to sustain research on drug development and to continue studies on effective treatment strategies. Particularly there is need to explore the integration of alternative medicine in the healthcare system especially there are many claims of alternative medicine techniques that cure diseases with no conventional cure. Unfortunately, the development of new drugs takes years and requires a lot of money.
2. My proposed research agenda
My interest is in the development of cancer drugs and particularly the development of a drug for breast cancer. My motivation to take on this project is the fact that breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the world. Given that plants have been always been a rich source of drugs or provided the molecular basis for development of synthetic drugs, I will focus my attention to herbs that are claimed to have anticancer effects. I will particularly focus on developing drugs from four plants that have been tested at various stages. Extracts from the virgins mantle, use as a herbal tea in Pakistan, have been found to kill cancerous cells in vitro while root extracts of Black cohosh has been found to kill breast cancer cells and reduce their growth in vitro. Turmeric extracts and green tea have been found to have the same effect.
It is important to note that drug development is an elaborate process that takes about 12 years from the laboratory testing stage to the drug approval stage. The estimates for development of a new drug range from below 100 million to 1.7 billion U.s dollars. This particular research will take about 11.5 years and cost $1.5 billion. The requirements for the research are:
1. The four plants
2. photochemistry laboratories for extraction and drug synthesis
3. Cancer cells for in vitro testing of the testing
4. Incubators, lamina flow hood, lab apparatus
5. Internet service and online library for literature search
6. Three laboratory technicians
7. Clinicians to carry out the clinical trials and volunteers
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Hope, J. (2012, August 22). The cup of herbal tea that could help fight breast cancer: Plant extract can kill cells in test tube . Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2191741/The-cup-herbal-tea-help-fight-breast-cancer-Plant-extract-kill-cells-test-tube.html
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WHO. (2013). Drug resistance. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://www.who.int/topics/drug_resistance/en/