Friday, August 12, 2011

Novelty is Not A Bad Thing

There's promising new leukemia treatment that's emerging, and I don't think anyone is upset about that. But if you read the article, it almost didn't happen. To quote:
Both the National Cancer Institute and several pharmaceutical companies declined to pay for the research. Neither applicants nor funders discuss the reasons an application is turned down. But good guesses are the general shortage of funds and the concept tried in this experiment was too novel and, thus, too risky for consideration (emphasis mine).
 This makes no sense. Especially on the cancer front, new and innovative ways are needed to help get rid of the disease. But more and more, people are afraid of new and novel things and ideas, and staying more with what they know and what is "safe." This is just wrong.

Cancer, AIDS, leukemia, all those diseases, the traditional treatments just aren't good enough. Chemo, radiation, pills, with all of them the mortality rate is still too high for me to be happy. Taking risks for treatments that could potentially save lives that seem to make sense is a great idea. But many of these treatments are unfunded or unexplored, as mentioned in the above article. My grandmother was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. After a quack doctor gave her six months to live, she explored herbal treatments and remedies. From bed-ridden and dying, to taking herbs to treat the cancer (note the word treat, not cure), she was well enough to go to a cancer center for a better doctor. She is still alive and doing well a year after her six months were up.

As stated, though, these treatments must make sense. I'm not saying to fund every thing that gets put on grant desk. But a treatment that uses a body's own T-Cells to kill the tumors seems like something worth funding. Herbs that can help slow the growth of a tumor, or at least give the patient some vitality during a chemo treatment may be worth looking into. A flashing light that blinds the tumor into falling off is stupid. A regimen of rubbing horseradish and turnip greens over the cancer site should be filed under "Not even if I won the lottery." 

As you can imagine, this is a difficult task. Sometimes great and new ways seem insane and not worth a second glance. But I call for some more serious thought be put into the rejection and acceptance process. more transparency for sure. The article said the reasons for turning down an applications is not discussed. This leaves too much room for politicking and self interest. With no transparency, it's too easy for friends, business associates, and others who may return a favor further down the road to get funding, while people outside the loop or people who slighted someone on the applicant board in the past go unnoticed. 

New treatments need to be sought out. New avenues need to be pursued to cure all kinds of deadly diseases. But being scared of novel ideas is just wrong. Every idea deserves a lot of consideration, and every rejection should be reviewed before it is permanently rejected. Without that, progress will be slow, and more people will succumb to their illness instead of living long and productive lives. And isn't that exactly what we're trying to prevent?

Agree? Disagree? I'm interested in what you have to say! Leave a comment or try one of the many ways of contacting me to let me know your thoughts!

No comments: