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Science Forum: Improving preclinical studies through replications

  1. Natascha I Drude
  2. Lorena Martinez Gamboa
  3. Meggie Danziger
  4. Ulrich Dirnagl
  5. Ulf Toelch  Is a corresponding author
  1. Charité Universitätsmedizin, Germany
  2. Berlin Institute of Health, Germany
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e62101 doi: 10.7554/eLife.62101

Abstract

The purpose of preclinical research is to inform the development of novel diagnostics or therapeutics, and the results of experiments on animal models of disease often inform the decision to conduct studies in humans. However, a substantial number of clinical trials fail, even when preclinical studies have apparently demonstrated the efficacy of a given intervention. A number of large-scale replication studies are currently trying to identify the factors that influence the robustness of preclinical research. Here, we discuss replications in the context of preclinical research trajectories, and argue that increasing validity should be a priority when selecting experiments to replicate and when performing the replication. We conclude that systematically improving three domains of validity – internal, external and translational – will result in a more efficient allocation of resources, will be more ethical, and will ultimately increase the chances of successful translation.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Natascha I Drude

    Experimentelle Neurologie, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7153-2894
  2. Lorena Martinez Gamboa

    Experimentelle Neurologie, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Meggie Danziger

    Experimentelle Neurologie, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Ulrich Dirnagl

    Department of Experimental Neurology, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0755-6119
  5. Ulf Toelch

    BIH QUEST Center for Transforming Biomedical Research, Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany
    For correspondence
    ulf.toelch@bihealth.de
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8731-3530

Funding

German Ministry for Education and Science

  • Natascha I Drude
  • Lorena Martinez Gamboa

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peter Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: September 2, 2020
  2. Accepted: January 12, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 12, 2021 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2021, Drude et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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