Biomedicine is a broad field of study that concerns itself with the theoretical aspects of medicine. Biomedicine draws from research and history in the fields of human and veterinary medicine, as well as a number of related disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, genetics, pathology, zoology, botanical sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and microbiology. Where traditional medicine is concerned with the direct practical application of medical knowledge, biomedicine looks at the history of the fields, and involves itself in new research to push the limits of what medicine is able to accomplish. Biomedicine may also refer more specifically to a specific type of treatment, generally seen as more ‘natural’ than others, and often available in a less regulated context.
There are two main areas of research within biomedicine: preclinical research and clinical research. Preclinical research is a large field of biomedicine which handles everything leading up to the actual clinical trials of new techniques and treatments. Clinical research, on the other hand, involves clinical studies to test the efficacy of drugs, techniques, and methodologies, as well as their relative safety.
The field of preclinical research within biomedicine involves a great deal of theoretical understanding and study, and may also involve tests performed on non-human animals to lead up to clinical trials. Because biomedicine draws from so many different areas of study, there can be many threads that are lost simply because they are not properly connected. As a result, one big focus of biomedicine is to try to find commonalities and synergies between different areas of study, to help lead to new drugs and treatments. This focus has evolved immensely in the past 100 years, and in the past two decades it has reached a level of high efficiency.
Clinical research, on the other hand, takes place after the groundwork has been done on a drug or treatment. Its job is to take the work that the biomedical researchers did in creating the new therapy, and test it to see if it actually works. They generally do this by getting a large group of people, screened to be a representative sample, and enter into a study with them wherein the new therapy is tested against a placebo or an existing treatment with a known success rate. In this way a statistical analysis can be undertaken to see if the treatment is actually effective, and if so, if it is more effective than existing treatments.
The term biomedicine may also be used to refer to a particular type of treatment, in which case it refers to things like vitamins, homeopathic remedies, amino acids, supplements, and other generally unregulated forms of healing. Since the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act of 1994, these types of treatments have been freely available in an unregulated context, with the U.S. FDA only allowed to intervene if they can clearly show that a substance poses a health risk to the public. This type of biomedicine is subject to some labeling restrictions, however, and producers cannot make claims that it can cure sicknesses unless there is strong scientific evidence to support it, although they can make certain preventative claims, as well as support claims.