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La biomédecine dans tous ses états

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIE – Les experts ont longtemps prédit que la biologie prédominerait au XXIe siècle, comme la physique l’a fait au XXe siècle. Pourtant, on attend toujours de la recherche biomédicale les mêmes hausses de productivité qu’a apportée l’industrialisation des procédés de combustion, de production d’électricité et de l’électronique. Est-il possible que le « Siècle de la biologie » ne soit qu’une simple vision?

Le problème tire principalement sa source de la baisse des budgets de recherche et développement en biomédecine. En date de maintenant, environ 270 milliards $ sont investis chaque année dans le domaine, avec une production impressionnante d’un demi-million d’études publiées, mais une maigre récolte de 20 à 30 nouveaux médicaments.

L’écart entre les dépenses et les résultats suit les règles de la loi d’Eroom connue sous le nom inversé de la loi de Moore. Comme chacun le sait, la loi de Moore suit l’évolution dans le temps de la puissance de traitement des microprocesseurs, en particulier la densité de transistors qu’on peut graver économiquement sur un circuit intégré qui double tous les 18 à 24 mois. À l’inverse, la courbe de la loi d’Eroom illustre la régression du nombre de nouveaux médicaments approuvés, soulignant que les coûts de mise au point de nouveaux médicaments doublent environ tous les neuf ans.

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