There is no questioning that pharmacology has played an important part in the great advances of medical science in the last century. Dramatically effective and relatively cheap drugs, such as aspirin or antibiotics, have marked for many once very severe or even lethal diseases a conversion to treatable conditions. Such drugs are the so-called "blockbusters" and they have represented the pillars of pharmaceutical industry so far.
Life extension has been a human goal for millennia, and research into ageing is providing grounds for optimism that this goal can be achieved. But are there any reasons we should be wary of extending lifespan? In general, living longer is thought to be a good thing. Indeed life expectancy is one of the criteria on which we judge whether a nation is doing well or badly.
The recent popularity of systems approaches in molecular biology is perhaps best understood as a reaction to technological developments beginning in the 1990s, notably the large sequencing projects such as the Human Genome Project.
Over the last decades the life sciences have gained increasing prominence in the public sphere, as the exponential success of our molecular gaze on life has been opening not only new vistas of knowledge but also unprecedented options to intervene into living processes.
As a post-doc, I used to assume that published work, particularly in high-ranking journals, was something you could rely on. Now the feeling is changed. A commentary recently appeared in Science (1) voiced a question that I have been asking myself since sometimes: how much of the published scientific work can nowadays really be trusted?