Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cure For Cancer Goes Unnoticed

So I read this article today, and I thought it was some pretty exciting news. That is, until I realized that it was published in 2007…

It turns out that at the University of Alberta researchers discovered a new way to fight cancer, a way that, until recently, scientists and doctors had never considered. Inside of every cell there is a useful little organelle called the mitochondria. You probably know it from your high school biology classes as the energy producing part of the cell, but the mitochondria has a second, very important function: self-destruct. In cancer cells, the mitochondrion’s self destruct function is switched off. This is why cancer tumors continue to grow and spread, the cancer cells never die. Since the 1930’s scientists have believed that the mitochondria in cancer cells were permanently damaged and that was a result of, or even the cause of the cancer. In Alberta they figured out a way to reactivate the mitochondria in cancer cells, allowing them to self-destruct and causing cancer cells to diminish.

But here is the real beauty about this whole thing. The treatment that they are developing only affects cancerous cells, and leaves healthy cells alone. This means that there are very few side affects to the treatment. Even better, the treatment (called DCA) cannot be patented and can be produced pretty cheaply. So there is a cheap, affective cancer treatment out there with few side-affects? Hallelujah!

So why am I only just hearing about this now? This initial research was done back in 2007, surely 5 years is enough time to have gotten the ball rolling on this one. It’s obvious, according to this DCA update site, that this research is ongoing, so what’s the holdup?

Well, here’s where things get sticky. Some people think that pharmaceutical companies aren’t backing this research because the treatment can’t be patented and therefore wont make them any money. So you mean to tell me that we’re not investing in a possible cancer treatment because there is no way to make money off of it? The original researcher, Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, even said that he was worried he would not be able to get much funding for that very reason.

So what gives Big Pharmacy? Can’t we invest in just helping people? I admit that it’s possible that this research is just not providing sufficient findings, but everything I’ve read suggests otherwise. Something must be stopping this treatment from gaining some ground and I don’t know what else it could be.

I just get so worked up thinking about all of our elders suffering from this disease in nursing homes and hospitals when with this treatment they might be able to come home and spend their golden years in their own homes or with their families. Of course, I would never let my parents go without their medical alert system to keep them safe.

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