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Drug development was once a marathon. New tools and timelines are turning it into a sprint

Drug development is more of a sprint than a marathon these days, thanks to more and better ways to target underlying biology and a more nuanced interpretation of precision medicine, three biotech leaders said at the STAT Breakthrough Summit East in New York Thursday.

“We used to say, well, you may spend five years in the research phase, another five in development. Now I see a project that takes one year of research, from an idea to studies,” said Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer and president of Pfizer research and development. “Time is life. You care about patients. And when the distance to run is long, it holds back the energy and the inspiration.”

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Key to that success are transformative new technologies like messenger RNA, which powered vaccines developed by Pfizer with its partner BioNTech.

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