From a press release:

BIOCAD R&D vice president Roman Ivanov said: “BIOCAD’s new monoclonal antibody blocking pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-17 may significantly expand treatment options for patients suffering from severe psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. We expect it to dramatically improve the disease outcomes and patients' quality of life.”

This the seems out of place. I would use no article there, because this "outcomes" is a kind of indicator.

But maybe it may be used there? After all, the disease (psoriasis) is mentioned in the previous sentence. The translator must have wanted to stress that it's not just any disease.

"It will improve the(?) outcomes in this disease" >> "It will improve the disease outcomes".

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    Again: for unknown reasons (but in explanation of which I have proposed a theory elsewhere), it is idiomatic in scientific and medical writing that the article is omitted before anything which could be even remotely construed as a mass noun. Thus, in your last sentence, this is idiomatic: "It will improve disease outcomes." Oct 14, 2016 at 4:20
  • @P.E.Dant - what if the sentence were in a private letter? A native speaker then might use "the disease outcomes"? Or he would still consider it part of "scientific writing" and omit the article? Oct 14, 2016 at 4:29
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    In correspondence, it would depend on the correspondent; a member of the scientific community would not balk at such an omission in a letter, but it might be discordant in terms of style. Oct 14, 2016 at 4:40
  • You can get rid of the article there. It is clunky. It's like saying "Using this primer improves the paint adhesion." If you're going to use the article, use the possessive: "... improves the paint's adhesion" or "improves the disease's outcomes". What adhesion? Paint adhesion. What outcomes? Disease outcomes.
    – TimR
    Oct 14, 2016 at 12:55

2 Answers 2


One can hardly take the English of this press release (sans hyphen) as indicative of good English. Consider its

Today, psoriasis is considered an incurable disorder, however the newest therapies allow to improve remission rate and extend its duration.

Do you see

*the newest therapies allow to improve remission rate and extend its duration.

Besides the blatantly ungrammatical "*allow to improve remission rates," What does its refer to? Remission rate does not have duration.

Too, it has

The secondary objective is to assess the drug safety and pharmacokinetics.

The drug safety is out of place here. The drug's safety is grammatical but perhaps not indicative of scientific writing (i.e., the safety of the drug might be more appropriate for this context). And, given this mess, I won't begin to speculate what should be done with pharmacokinetics

Getting back to your phrase, the disease outcomes is a definite noun phrase, meaning the author assumes that we can figure out which 'disease outcomes' he/she is talking about. I deduce it is the disease outcomes of patients suffering from severe psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. But notice the anarthrous usage of treatment outcomes. Surely these outcomes are for the selfsame patients. But in a scientific study, the anarthous usage is preferred. So, yes the disease outcomes seems out of place.

  • Thank you for the examination of other parts of the text! There are grammar lapses, but overall I think the translation is perfectly clear. I only recently drilled myself into avoiding phrases like "allow to improve remission rates" (in Russian, this is a very common construction with "allow"). Oct 15, 2016 at 3:53
  • "the newest therapies allow to improve remission rate and extend its duration." - they mean "with the newest therapies, remissions happen more often and last longer". Oct 15, 2016 at 4:22

It's not wrong to leave out the article, but "the outcomes" is just fine. Sometimes professional journals have their own vernacular, and a phrase like "the disease outcomes" might be common and even expected in things like medical journals, even though in ordinary conversation you might say the same thing differently.

It's also likely that "the disease outcomes" is jargon, and as such has a certain, expected definition when used by pharmacologists, as compared with similar terms like "rate of recovery" or "quality of life". In a press release, a company has to be very careful not to say anything unwarranted or misleading, since this could make them liable for false advertising.

  • Very interesting! I was 90% certain that "the disease outcomes" would sound odd to a native speaker, and asked the question merely to "make sure". Now I'll pay closer attention to such phrases. Oct 14, 2016 at 4:12
  • Yes, it's "odd" to anyone not familiar with pharmacological journals. I'm sure if you're in the field it's perfectly routine.
    – Andrew
    Oct 14, 2016 at 4:17
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    It does sound odd to me. Andrew, just to make sure, you're saying that you're familiar with this use from pharma journals?
    – user230
    Oct 14, 2016 at 8:17
  • books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – TimR
    Oct 14, 2016 at 13:01

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