What is the Valley of Death?
By: Kimberly Schonhorst and Baiju R. Shah
In our field, the “valley of death” refers to the resource gap that prevents promising technologies from becoming medicines. Most people think of it simply as a lack of funding, but it is much more than that. The valley of death is a resource gap — the combined lack of funding, drug development expertise, and industry interest in academic discoveries that are still at the early stages of pharmaceutical development. This gap prevents patients from benefiting from research discoveries and receiving new treatments that they desperately need, want, and deserve.
While there have been huge strides in scientific research, this progress has not crossed over into the clinic and ultimately, patients are left suffering. Many promising breakthroughs are left on the shelves, effectively getting caught in this so-called valley of death. Let’s consider rare disease patients. According to the National Institutes of Health, scientists have identified the molecular pathway, essentially how the disease develops, for more than 7,000 rare diseases. Of these, only about 500 currently have some form of treatment. And even for those diseases that have seen new treatments and cures, it can take a long time due to the challenges of advancing discoveries through the valley of death. For instance, 23 years passed from the discovery of the causes of Cystic Fibrosis to a new treatment being available to patients.
In recent years, new biotech accelerators, like BioMotiv, with novel business models have been created to fill this resource gap and advance novel and exciting programs from “bench to bedside.” BioMotiv’s mission-driven approach aligns drug development expertise, strategic partnerships, and capital, with the insights of academic researchers, to bridge the valley of death. Our goal is to advance novel and exciting programs to a point at which venture investors and pharmaceutical companies are willing to take them forward for full commercialization. Our investors and partners are impact investors who align with our aims to achieve significant societal benefit while also pursuing returns for stakeholders. We hope that the success of early accelerators, like BioMotiv, encourages others to establish similar efforts as there are many thousands of research discoveries waiting to be advanced for patients and impact.
To learn more about BioMotiv’s mission-driven approach to accelerating breakthrough discoveries into medications for patients who need them most, click here.