Olivier Coquillo

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Why can't we all get together and find a cure to all terminal diseases?

I have not done enough research on collaboration between research centers but I promise to read all of your comments, since I am mostly asking this question to learn from you.

One of my dreams is to be able to witness an international collaboration and a public commitment from top research centers to find a cure to terminal diseases and to distribute the cure for free to people in need.

Do you think that there is a competition between research centers and scientists? Do you think that some groups are more focused on finding a cure to make money rather than finding a cure to save lives? I would love to know what you think.


  • May 4 2013: If they find a cure they lose their job and paycheck.
    • May 4 2013: This is a big part of it. Cured people don't pay money, sick people do. If you find a cure, you make a lot of money short term, but not long term.
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        May 8 2013: It's likely that as new diseases emerge and deadly epidemics pose serious threats to the Western world, pharmaceutical companies, doctors and researchers will collaborate to create more cures, rather than simply medicating the pestilence. However, it will unmistakably come at a cost. The collaborators will probably be quite parsimonious when administering free drugs to poverty stricken communities.
        • May 8 2013: The response to disease or epidemics striking the western world would be incredibly fast. However, the treatment would not be widespread unless it would benefit those major economic areas of the world. It is sad that medicine has become what it is today.
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      • May 4 2013: It think it should be both it would be a better way to balance cost and profits
        The method can change as can the cure. The economic problems are easy trust in new systems and business models are the challenge.

        Human health has always bin a living paradox its a changing puzzle
        With many different solutions and problems.
    • May 7 2013: But there's always the possibility of finding better and cheaper cures, which can possibly be even more profitable than the original cure itself.
      Mass production of said cure and distribution are also profitable things that research centers could then focus on. So I doubt they'd be losing their jobs anytime soon.
  • May 2 2013: I think a large part of the problem is the business model that 'curing' diseases produce and the ability to make huge amounts of cash on it. The best thing to reduce this would be to reduce patents on drugs to a year lifespan or something
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      May 2 2013: Hi Scott...I can see how reducing patents on drugs can help...I always wonder, would there be a lack of interest in becoming a scientist if finding a "formula" for a cure was less rewarding? Would some people stop pursuing careers in areas that serve humanity but are not so financially rewarding?

      Thanks for your comment Scott.
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      May 19 2013: Legislation in this direction on the national level, with some global treaty backing would be a great aid to all of us.
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    May 12 2013: Sometimes it's frustrating to see drug companies working tirelessly to produce new drugs to treat chronic symptoms (which is important, but also has the added benefit of life-long drug users and therefore an ongoing revenue stream) and less on finding a cure for the underlying problem causing the symptoms, which would provide a life time of relief for patients, but also yield smaller profits.

    Luckily there are lots of university researchers and small bio-techs out there trying to solve these problems, but it takes time, lots of time, oodles of money, and years of trials to get new drugs and treatments approved. A lot of these researchers spend more time writing grant proposals than they do actually conducting research. And before beginning research, one first has to have an idea, inspiration or hypothesis for a cure to test.

    To that end, something I'm interested in right now is creating an online space where everyday people with chronic illnesses can come and share information about their condition (symptoms, treatments they have tried, both mainstream and alternative, what's working, what's not), but in a standardized way so we can run reports and generate graphs and charts to facilitate our understanding of the data. My hope is that these reports will lead researchers to realize connections and disease relationships that were previously unknown, and spur new ideas for cures.
  • May 22 2013: On "cure" vs. "treat:" It is nice to have the immense R&D capability that the pharmaceutical companies have because of the immense financial reserves they generate, And in the case of truly chronic diseases this is good. However, the mandate to generate increasingly large profits (corporations must do this by law) may be counterproductive when it comes to finding solutions for truly curable diseases or putting treatments that no longer fall under patent protection through clinical trials. It is a real risk in cases like these that the company would not be able to recoup its investment. As such, it is a sad fact, I think, that the current trend is for businesses to focus mostly on treatment and not so much on cure. It is an area that I believe needs some government intervention.

    On competition between researchers: I know there is significant competition among researchers, if only by virtue of the fact that they need to compete for money to continue their studies. My brother-in-law is a medical researcher at a university and he spends a large portion of his time not on research but on writing grant proposals. And when he doesn't get the grant, naturally it hurts his research, so of course he fights hard to show that his research is a more worthwhile investment than the other person's. That having been said, I am encouraged by all of the opening up of research journals and information that has been released by open access journals, and I know that collaboration among scientists exists. I think one of the key things to be considered is that it is not usually the pettiness of individual scientists that creates competition. Rather, competition is more often due to the way we have systematized the allocation of available resources that the scientists need to do their jobs. Again, I think that the solution to achieving greater collaboration among scientists would require the government to step in.
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      Jun 1 2013: I agree with you Karl. This is not something that can be done without the government.
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    May 22 2013: As soon as Humanity decides that people are more important than money, power, and glory, unncessary suffering through disease will be gone... and longevity will increase. I recently was able to walk around a college campus. In one lab, the students were stopping atoms using lazers. In another lab, they were studying Oncology: Yet, these two labs never communicate with each other. This makes no sense at all ! I think Humanity already has the technology to "Manage" disease better, and therefore eliminate virtually any type of disease. Money, patenting, control, responsibility, law, all hold things back.

    Unfortunately, even in the best case scenario, diseases will always have to be managed because they are "Infinite" and "Entropy" is infinite.

    I do not know how to change Humanity's values from an Entertainment, Restaurant based values to values of reducing suffering and increasing joy. We need 10,000 more electron micro-scopes, and 10,000 fewer restaurants. 10,000 more Biochemists, and 10,000 fewer people being paid minimum wage.

    Thank you for the question. I appreciate knowing that others care.
  • May 7 2013: OC, not to burst your bubble, but I honestly don't think we can ever find a cure for cancer or HIV. I'm not saying this as a pessimist who is giving up I speak as a researcher, with full understanding of the diseases, and more importantly as a realist wanting to attempt a satisfactory treatment. Treatment, not cure. I'm not saying researchers and doctors should give up. I'm saying they need to accept that there may NEVER be a full cure, and try to find a treatment that gets as close to a cure as possible..

    And as far as centres dedicated to specific diseases, we have a LOT of them scattered around the world. What is lacking here is primarily networking between the researchers. Scientists are generally reluctant to publish all of the data they generate because they have plagiarism concerns. What would really help is the WHO co-ordinating more programmes. Raising awareness. Bringing people with resources and researchers with ideas together. And getting people willing to skip the small stuff and look at a bigger picture.

    P.S. Sorry about rambling on. This is an issue that's personal to me and i find it difficult to remain objective.
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      May 7 2013: You may find it difficult to remain objective, but as a researcher in this area, you may still be the closest to an objective understanding of the subject.
      • May 7 2013: When it's about work, yes. But when I'm talking about it.. I tend to ramble on :) Thanks though!
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      May 8 2013: Sindhu, I believe we can find a cure to cancer and HIV if we combine our research efforts on an international level. A transparent international cooperation is challenging (because of the reasons you mentioned and many more), but it can be done!

      I do like the idea of focusing on the best treatment for terminal illnesses, but a treatment should be a temporary solution until we find a cure. This actually brings a good idea. Maybe there should be three groups in those International Association of Research Institutes that I dream about:

      1 group of scientists focusing on finding the cure
      1 group of qualified people focusing on finding the best treatment and educating the population
      1 group of qualified individuals focusing on how to deliver the cure to people in need for free

      Thank you Sindhu!

  • May 3 2013: Scientific studies on therapeutic medicine or procedure have evolved into expensive work and involve long and expensive testing, and application for selling the products in the market, so that even academic research facilities have to get funds from drug companies or government agencies. And such supporters usually prohibit exchange of information with outside organizations by the researchers before the products are tested and patented. The times of quinine and penicillin, which are relatively easy to make/extract, is long gone, The research of new drugs nowadays needs expensive equipments and facilities, therefore the possibility of cooperation between researchers in different countries is not a simple situation. And even it is carried out , one still needs lengthy, exhaustive and expensive clinical trials to get the drugs to be sold for treatment uses. This means that a large drug manufacturing company must be involved. If we look at many new findings by some new biotechnology companies, they have to cooperate with the large companies to share the testing, manufacturing and marketing in order to get their new discoveries into the market for treating the patients.
    Personally I have participated in a number of research/humanity projects, such as use of HIV vaccine or treatment of hepatitis B in foreign (Asia, Africa) countries. But these projects were based on the contribution of the drug companies who have already held the patents of the vaccine or drugs. Of course, there were examples of treating HIV with a "cocktail" drug therapy (which was not patented as far as I know) to almost cure the AIDS (HIV+) patients. Another example, the drug; Lipitor (Atorvastatin), which probably contributed to the reduction of deaths from heart disease, is now off-patent, and becomes quite affordable in the generic form. These are the examples that we have to wait,or ask for exemption or reduction in price before the patent expires.
    Sorry for the discouragement, but it's true
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      May 6 2013: Thanks for sharing Bart. No need to be sorry for the discouragement. I still believe it can be done.

      • May 6 2013: Thanks for your reply. I was a researcher in a school of public health, specialized in drug testing and disease prevention. In my view, it is probably more important in preventing gastrointestinal infections to reduce mortality and morbidity in children and young adults than treating diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases mostly in the elderly. So, you could at least look into some devices or methods for the prevention of preventable diseases for younger people.
        For example, I just read a discussion in TED, which discussed a "contraption" made as a solar energy cooker. This cooker, if adopted, not only serves as a self-sufficient cooking equipment, it also could make distilled potable water (my idea). Furthermore I observed my neighbor who used to put water and tea leaves in a glass jar and left it under the Texas sunlight and after 4 to 6 hours, the tea is done ("cooked"). This was without the help of a solar panel at all. I am not an engineer, but I can see that a whole system of cooking and potable water making equipment could be made with manageable cost.
        The water could be either from collection of rain water, or from lakes or rivers. Then the only energy need is the sunlight.
        I hope that it is a useful idea for you to look into, if you are interested.
  • May 3 2013: Most terminal illnesses are man made for the purpose of collecting insurance and patient moneys for a cure, or preventive vaccine. Money has definitely crippled our research centers, scientists, and doctors in many ways. Fortunately, we have many good doctors out there that are all for the progression of our health and disease resistance, and they have all come to the conclusion that all remedies can be found on earth, and not in beakers, unfortunately those individuals are given a hard time in practicing this method because it's not lucrative enough for USA inc.
    I personally feel as though any disease not caused or cured naturally isn't natural. Our bodies are made up of everything that can be found on earth, so we should be able to naturally heal ourselves, I mean our bones and skin can refuse on its own, we have our own natural antibiotics and ill fighting bacteria, and the earth grows everything else to keep it going.
    My advice, to any and everyone is to become more self sufficient. Steer away from man made concoctions, processed foods, GM goods, and drugs and alcohol. Exercise regularly, grow your own garden of every kind and create a balance diet with that. That is the cure to many things.
    Check out http://www.non-hybrid-seeds.com/
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      May 6 2013: Definitely a different way to look at things. Thank you Uniqea. I will visit the link you provided.

  • May 3 2013: Money is a major hinderance to this. It can cost upwards of a billion USD and take more than a decade to get a singular drug in the mass market. Drugs and cures for diseases have to first be synthesized, tested heavily, and then prepared for mass production.

    So research centers and companies have to make a return on this investment, so they focus on the ailments of more wealthy countries. That's why there are so few treatments for tropical diseases, since companies and research centers don't get a very good return on investment in countries like the Congo as they would in North America and Europe. For most companies, it seems that the main goal is to make money, with the added benefit of saving lives.

    However, if money wasn't an issue... I think it would be a very real possibility for research centers and scientists to collaborate, similar to what was done with the Human Genome project. It'll take a while because of the development process, but it can be done.
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      May 6 2013: Ben, thank you for your post, and I appreciate your last words: "It can be done."

  • May 13 2013: Sickness is a challenge. Challeges makes us stronger. We evolve biologically and mentally because of challenges. Evolution is from the GRADUAL adaptation of a species to overcome achallenge. Evolution is natural. So we must evolve by natural means. natural Selection, good diet, good environment, changing the world with one Act of Random Kindness at a time, etc. Sickness can kill and has killed billions. But caution is better than cure and elimination is worse than doing something efficiently. We must be present oriented. We are spirits of lov, wisdom, and contemplation. We must be resilient at look at life, our life, not staying alive but being alive.
  • May 7 2013: There's a quote that I can't remember exactly, but it says something like "It's not that it's not there (anything we research/try to find), we are simply aren't looking with the appropriate tools" (If it rings a bell, please comment here what it is precisely). One of the concepts that the Age of Enlightment gave us is that everything is possible- we only need to use our wits.
    So, with regards to that I presume that someday cancer would be less of a deal, and researchers would be occupied in figuring out something else, at least to some extent.

    Back to your question- You can ask the same question regarding many other aspects of life- Why aren't people working together to famish famine? To decontaminate earth's oceans, soil and such? If only 5% of the world population would've done that, we would all be better now.
    I presume that it's a part of human nature, some sort of drawback that we all carry that holds up back. most of the people aren't bothered by these iniquities until it hits them.
    And then it's too late.
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      May 8 2013: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I will look for that quote. Interesting. :)

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    May 3 2013: "Do you think that there is a competition between research centers and scientists?"

    There is no competition among REAL researchers. There is competition between people who cannot let go of their emotions. Researchers can. Luckily, there are gatekeepers and moderators and people who are researchers at the same time.

    There can be competition between philosophers, psychologists and theories, but all of them evolve as we evolve. It's interesting that a combination and collaboration of all those people in a global network can completely shift the paradigm. For the better.

    Confusion between who is a philosopher and who is a practitioner can lead to inhumane behaviour. Take Freud. He was not a psychiatrist, but he was viewed as such. He was only a philosopher. Practitioners used and misused his name to justify their behaviour in the medical field, just as they misused other names, theories, concepts while forgetting that before you take a decision that regards other people's lives, you must let go of frustration, use formal logic and be humane.

    Best wishes.
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      May 3 2013: Good idea Carolyn. I never looked for a website that promotes the finding of a cure to all terminal diseases. Maybe I should think about creating one.

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      May 3 2013: What are you saying? Do you think that diseases are created and controlled by a group of people?

      Accepting defeat without starting the fight will not be the solution to our problems. We can't work on finding the cure to all terminal diseases with the mindset that our work will be in vain.

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          May 6 2013: I see what you are saying. To me saving one life is a more than a reason to finding a cure. I can't think beyond that.

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    May 2 2013: Large numbers of researchers across institutions are dedicated to finding cures to save lives, publish their research in journals, and confer at conferences where medical researchers convene. Meanwhile teams try different strategies to see what might work.. The personal and professional rewards for scientists who find cures and for their research centers is enormous, but that does not make the work easy.
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      May 3 2013: Fritzie, I'm sure there are scientists out there who are dedicated to save lives. I just want to wake up one day and see that finding a cure to fatal diseases is no longer a money-making strategy. Of course, people should always be rewarded for their hard work.
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        May 3 2013: I only wanted to say that not having unraveled the mystery of how to cure these diseases likely has more to do with the scientific challenge of the problem than it does with perverse incentives. At least I urge you to be fully open to this possible explanation rather than rejecting it with little serious consideration.
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          May 6 2013: Okay. I am open to this explanation as well. I do believe that finding the cure to fatal illnesses is very challenging. I also believe that a more transparent global collaboration between research centers focusing on the same illness will make the journey less challenging.

          For example, I would like to see the creation of and International Association of [Name of Illness] Research Institutes for every single terminal illness. Each of these associations will make a commitment to find a cure in 5 years, 10 years, etc and will keep the public informed on recent developments.

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      Jun 1 2013: Keith, it's very had to just eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
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    May 19 2013: Outstanding question Oliver.

    “Do you think that there is a competition between research centers and scientists? Do you think that some groups are more focused on finding a cure to make money rather than finding a cure to save lives? I would love to know what you think.”

    I have no knowledge of any science organization that pursues such goals without the use of money, tools and trained/experience researchers in the fields of science. The economic system of trade in a country, usually defines the exchange of commodities/credits necessary to pursue such endeavors.

    While scientists tend to seek pure truth, research centers can only exist by using the economic tools designed to create the flow of ideas and research, necessary to give us these cures. The bottom line is, in any political system, money is the established system of exchange used to create these centers.

    While the profit of such research will benefit mankind as a whole, even without money, we can only put so much of our resources towards this goal because we have other priority goals that vie for the same resources. We all need food, clean water, clean air and shelter as a basic priority for most healthy people to live.

    There have been times when scientists have been brought together within one community that supplied all their basic needs to create knowledge that led to the creation of a device that would end war. That device, of course, was the atomic bomb and it did, indeed, end the war with Japan. From what I understand from reading of this event. Most of the scientists were happy and content to work together in this environment, but only for a limited time.

    When we become a class one civilization, we will have no use for money. The question is: can we be happy with this arrangement or will some other form of human exchange replace the affect money has on people, to motivate them to prosper through scientific understanding.
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      Jun 1 2013: good approach to the question...Thank you
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        Jun 1 2013: Mr Coquillo,
        I'd like to add that with the internet, we have the opportunity to team up with others who feel as we do and participate together to work for dreams such as you may have. I belong to many biology, engineer, physics, genetics, clubs where we try to do experiments to discover knowledge for free. Some devices have been invented that greatly reduce the cost of treatments and testing to the end user..

        Engineers who participate in such endeavors are responsible for creating devices that allow people without means to enhance the quality of their life, at a cost they can afford. Wheelchairs are a good example. I'm afraid that if we do make it to a class one civilization, it will be through more so through individual efforts, bonded with others of a like mind, through networking tools.

        We use to need a better mouse trap. Today we need a better battery. Point of use power is one of the greatest drags on human progress today. Perhaps you could participate. Image if every Haitian could make a device from simple parts and generate power for their living space on the cheap. Would that make a difference to the quality of life Haiti?
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    May 19 2013: Your dream of collaborative, social medicine is beautiful. Unfortunately, the reality of the economics of industrial societies tend to create competition for dollars amongst scientists who should be cooperating. This problem is compounded by the corporate drive to profit from all medical services and products. The social imperatives of terminal disease are currently subordinated to the fiscal imperatives of global profiteering. The joke about all of this is that medicine is about people and people are both the solution and the problem.

    Many scientists are working around the financial constraints through social organizations. If you dig through the TED talks you'll find some of these people and learn the names of organizations, schools and businesses involved. Obviously, following up on those clues with some vigorous web research will give you a broad source of knowledge moving toward your dream.

    Here in America, all businesses are in business for the money, regardless of what their representatives say. That's why medicine here is more expensive than it is in many other industrial nations. Many of the organizations here are equally interested in money more than health because Americans are rich people (compared to most of the people on the planet) who constantly crave more luxury and riches.

    To compound the societal issues, terminal illness is a moving target. As you know, there is no one cancer; there are many cancers. All of these illnesses involve cellular changes, through either internal mutation, genetic proclivity, infection, or some other form of external stress. Ethnic differences may be involved, with environmental factors and personal history. Each individual with an illness, any illness really, has an individual instance of that illness. With 7 billion individuals on the planet, no single cure will help all those afflicted. Even if it did, it could not prevent mutation of the illness.

    Perseverance and diligence are our only answers.
  • May 16 2013: The answer is obvious, money. Someone, somewhere realized that there is no money in curing people. "Management" of a disease is better. (from a financial standpoint).

    Second there have been no cures from at least the 1950's which was smallpox, even that was not really a cure, it was a vaccine against it. Polio, which everyone thought was gone, apparently isn't.

    But whats critical, regarding certain other diseases, is understanding, that understanding being, we have never, read that again, never, successfully ever cured a virus. If we had the common-cold would be a thing of the past. That unfortunately, and i really mean that, unfortunately, is why, even with all the monies and efforts spanning what nearly 30 years, aids/hiv will not be cured in the foreseeable future.

    I wish the above was not true, but just wishing it, or giving more money, just wont make it any better.

    We need to change our mindsets as humanity as a whole, only then I believe will we make progress.
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      Jun 1 2013: "change our mindset" that's the most important part...
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    May 16 2013: The simple fact is we can all get together and do anything and everything. The internet isn't called the information superhighway for nothing. It has been stated that the next big world discoveries will be in the area of medical science. The human genome has already been mapped and we are on the precipice of some significant discoveries. Many of the posts here are right to say that money is the differentiator between discovery and to market cures. Philanthropy and altruism are unfortunately lacking for much of what could be done. Capitalism does dictate what is researched and what is not. This then correlates to how discoveries are made or not. To me, what is missing is the part that can be played by the professional amateur. That is to say, we need to utilize the 2 billion people or 1/3rd of the planet on the internet and have them actively involved. The humble lone scientist or his collective community is capped significantly in terms of productive research man hours. There is a term/book known as "Crowdsourcing". NASA & Proctor & Gamble and many major players utilize this resource. It is fair to say that any organisation does not necessarily employ or is capable of employing the best of the best. What has recently been acknowledged is it is possible thru diversity and professional amateurs to come up with solutions that exceed company employee stature and expectation. This then correlates to mean that, if specific research areas were professionally googled by amateurs who as a consequence were able to digitally resource reference their findings in a library category like format, that researchers could more readily find these these discoveries and incorporate them into their research and scientific journals. Researchers would google keywords related to their areas of interest and find the related information as referenced by their professional co collaboraters. Money is the main motivator for much of what is discovered/cured, tho don't dispense with majority.
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      May 16 2013: research is being done already. crowdsourcing is as easy as go to their websites, and press the donate button. here, let me help you out:

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        May 16 2013: Excellent response Krisztian! These linked innovators are now highlighted to a community. Until now, I had never heard of them and dare I say, many others hadn't either. This is exactly what needs to be done to find cures. To me focus is the key! A brief overview of the two links was enough for me to gauge their authenticity and validity in terms of professional destinations for canditure as world worthy facilitators for research into disease cures.
        It would seem to me that, the world needs to focus on links such as these, so that the cures will be more forthcoming. The reason for this would simply be that if for example these two institutions were the majority charity donated to world wide, then, they would also be the best and most significantly funded organisations in the world who could employ the best, brightest and most scientific minds in the world to find the cures. The internet provides us with a world that is very closely connected. The internet world as such provides us with greater potential and synergies to amalganate and organise ourselves in such a way as has never been before. Why not, now create a Earth citizen community online that takes control of our world and circumstance and contemplate setting up the following. Krisztian's post gives a link to make donations. Well and good, but not co ordinated. My thoughts are along the lines of what do we want a cure for? Okay as a community we have prioritised them by way of online collaboration amongst ourselves. We tell the organisations what they should focus on, as we as a community via paypal donation/deposits to their research repository will have funded it. The term crowdsourcing, relates to the term as described in the book of the same name and is somewhat misplaced in Krisztian's interpretation, however does not diminish the ideal that a large number of people can donate to a worthwhile cause. My suggestion merely integrates another layer of community minded systemisation! :D
  • May 14 2013: Simple - an educated person has invested years and a lot of money slogging off and requires decent remuneration so ends up with capitalist giants who exploit him and are in a race to be able to 'patent 'a cure to sell it at a high price. Their focus is not on discovering a cure. That's what makes the difference.
  • May 13 2013: Somehow I think we could rather turn the question on its head. Instead of seeking a cure for disease – what about preventing people from getting disease in the first place?
    I agree that research into cure is important but if we all live healthier lifestyles then that would reduce the illness. And let us not forget that life itself is a terminal condition; none of us will get out alive!
    From some of the posts here, it is noticeable that keeping people healthy does not make a bucket of money for anyone. Keeping them sick does.
    Also, researchers need funds and if those funds come from an organisation with a commercial aim they will a) ‘encourage’ the scientists to look for things that will make money and b) suppress the results that don’t further that goal. We all know that, despite what the companies claim.
    So, is our current economic thinking the barrier? Nothing to do with the capabilities of scientists. Just a skewed incentive.
    I hear news reports for doing medical tests on everyone or for taking (eg) an aspirin every day as a preventative. But that again is using drugs. Instead of adding fluoride to water supplies maybe it would be better to alkalise all the water.
    Someone wrote about everything being of the earth - this approach would be in accord with that philosophy. Boosting the immune system of each individual.
    I could extend the argument to include our food (in ‘developed’ countries), agriculture, supermarkets and the whole chain of our economics. Everyone has to sell something and the only ethic in business is to make money for shareholders. If going ‘green’ will help that aim then it will be done, or pretended. If not, no chance.
    There is always a hope, Olivier, if we give up on that then we might as well all pack up and go home. However, first, a large enough group of people needs to agree on what the aim is.
    So, can I pose a question; is it about finding a cure for all disease or eliminating as much disease as we can? If both, where is the priority?
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      May 14 2013: Ian, I think all actions should be taken simultaneously. We should focus on preventing more people from getting the diseases to which we are relentlessly working on finding a cure. My ideas can be summarized in three words: educate, treat, cure.

      1. Educate people who are at risk
      2. Provide and Improve treatment to those in need
      3. Find a cure

      What's the priority? It's hard to prioritize, and keep in mind, that the group of people working on #1 should not be the group working on #2 or #3. So the three groups can work simultaneously and communicate with each other.

      • May 14 2013: I agree all that, Olivier, but I think you are missing my main point. Let's focus on health first of all, not sickness.
        Keeping people healthy is the most effective way of dealing with sickness! It is also the cheapest. And it does not need research.

        I suppose one issue is that most people are focussed on the problems of ill-health rather than the benefits of good health. That is where most of the medical industry gets its jobs and makes its money. Change that around and you have a different paradigm.

        Keep thinking and communicating.

  • May 13 2013: Mobilize the power of open source communities to collaborate and keep research free and open. That will attract those who really want to work on a cure for the sake of curing people rather than making money.
  • May 12 2013: We can and are :-) slowly but surely the pace of change and collaboration is increasing and fortunately for us we are rapidly approaching if not already at a point of a paradigm shift in medical science from cure to prevention. Money is a great motivator as we saw with the x prize if you want to profoundly accelerate anything put a big prize up for grabs. I wonder what would happen if 10 or 100 million pound prize was publicized for the cure of HIV or Cancer? I bet very quickly cures would be flying at you left right and center. As a species we now poses the knowledge required to solve almost all the problems humanity faces whether it be disease, famine or disasters but as you suggest until we harness the ability to focus as a collective the solutions will never disseminate at the speed one would ideally like.
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    May 12 2013: I can think of a few reasons why we have not yet come together to find a cure to all terminal diseases. I don't think this is a problem of collaboration among research centers.

    There is a certain amount of time and money that it will take to find all the cures, and we are slowly getting there, but it just takes time and money. Increasing the money could mean less time, but that additional money would probably come from tax revenue if the market is not investing enough.

    I think another interesting issue to consider, is who would get to benefit from all these cures? Only those with the best insurance policies, or the wealthy? Surely the cures for all diseases would not be available to everyone. We already have a huge problem in the United States, spending more than any other country on health care, and yet consistently ranking abysmal on world-wide health comparisons. Why for example does the United States have by far the highest infant mortality rate of the industrialized world? We don't need any new cures to save all those children.

    Even more interesting is when you consider death by "old age" to be just another terminal disease, and we find a cure for that one. I once started a TED conversation where I asked people if they would avail themselves of a cure for aging if one were found, and remarkably (to me), many people - perhaps even the majority of respondents - would prefer to die by old age at their so-called "natural" time, even if a cure were available.

    Then there are the millions of people world wide who knowingly choose to commit suicide each year - every single year - by smoking cigarettes. I point that particular method of suicide out, because it is sanctioned and supported by our U.S. Federal government, in the name of profit. Again, no medical cure needs to be found here to save millions of lives.

    Look at what the Gates foundation is doing - just by making the cures and techniques we already have found, and distributing them world wide.
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      May 13 2013: Thank you Danger! You brought up some good points.

  • May 12 2013: The western world is tilted almost entirely by competition. There is no priority in education to balance the scale with formal models that address cooperation. I was over 30 years of age before I heard the word synergy and had to think on it for quite some time before I realized how important and how unfortunately neglected or excluded this concept is and was from western thinking. People cooperate all the time and sometimes the combination of two or more people in the same effort creates a new whole far greater than the sum of its parts where accomplishments are made that could not even be conceived by the very same people before working together and finding that their one plus on equals a million. The word "collaboration" is more often used and that word has negative baggage. As long as we have a "winner-takes-all" culture defining our relationship with out fellow human beings, we shall never realize even 10% of our collective potential. It may even be more like 1% versus 99% which is the current default of capitalism surpassing the point where it is a healthy model of progress. It is more than pass time to reconcile that neither totality won this horrible thing we called the Cold War where we achieved our own extinction level event. If capitalism continues as an intolerant ideological totality, the world will repeat the histories of the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and if you look at Europe today you'll see us very close to chaos. Who will lead the unseen alternative to introduce cooperative models which integrate with competitive ones rather than seeking to merely replace them with the same thing? I for one would risk martyrdom for that cause, The new boss does not have to be same as the old boss. But someone has to take the esoterica out of observing the cooperative model and make it fair. Today's CEO makes 300 times the employee when one time he only made 20 times. Surely we can have a culture motivated by other than winner takes all, some.
  • Teddy S

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    May 9 2013: I agree with 'Bob Gu'.
  • Bob Gu

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    May 9 2013: This may seem like brilliant idea but unfortunately most of the world won't move an inch to assist in this, why?
    Well unfortunately we are all driven by money and greed. No one will do this unless there is something in it for them. Competition is healthy but when it becomes personal and sabotage etc that will undermine the research itself then rather than construction we have fallen into a pit of our own destruction.

    Bob Gu
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      May 13 2013: Thanks Bob. I still have hope.

      • Bob Gu

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        May 13 2013: I do as well but its just the reality that we are faced with... It sucks... But there are some good men and women out there working hard to solve this problem.

  • May 8 2013: OC,

    That is exactly what we need! People collaborating and working on different aspects of medicine, healthcare and policy making. :)

  • May 4 2013: Please excuse me for the quatily of my English.
    As a doctor a think the top research centers are more focused on making money than saving lives. Go to a pharmacy and you will realise that for the treatment a one desease ,can be used more than 7 drogs ( NB: from 7 different research centers). This shows how they don't collaborate. Reseach is not my area of expertise, but i'm sure that is the reseach centers share ideas amoung them at least the will fing a way to increase the life experience and later on to cure terminal deseases.
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      May 6 2013: Don't worry about your English. We are all here to learn from each other.

      This is a good way to look at it. I never thought of it like that. Why is there several drugs for the same discomfort or illness? Very good point. I cannot confirm that the only reason why is because drug companies/research centers don't collaborate but I'm sure it is one of the reasons.

  • Comment deleted

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      May 6 2013: You just planted a seed in me. Thank you for empowering me.

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    May 3 2013: Your question made me think of a strong conversation I had with a neurologist. I have a little-known epileptic syndrome (I promise not to rant about the causes...) and have tried a lot of different type of medicines. None of them worked, apart from one, I tested it on myself. The new types made me dizzy and suffer from all kinds of side-effects, they seemed to have to influenced all of my metabolism in negative ways while not really removing any problems, just adding more. At one point I said that enough is enough and stopped taking them.
    During a usual patient-doctor interview I was asked what other medicines I use. I answered that one of them was biotin. The doctor didn't know what that was and asked me:
    "Is this some sort of a Polish substance?"
    "There are no Polish, English or French substances. Substances are substances. Period."
  • May 2 2013: Its all a "money circle". People get sick, doctors identify the illness, find a cure, but it costs too much *most people who are sick are middle class or poor*, they market the cure, but only the rich and insured can afford it, and repeat. Im sure many centers collab and research together, the true question is "when will we be able to provide the cure?"
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      May 2 2013: "most people who are sick are middle class or poor"? If this is true, it will be mostly because there are far less rich people in this world than middle class and poor people combined. But I see what you mean though...

      When will we be able to provide the cure? Well I believe we can find the cure to all kinds of cancer in a relatively short period of time if we combine our research efforts all over the world. (This is based on my personal belief, not facts.)

      Thanks for commenting Brea.
  • May 21 2013: Because schools teach copy and paste and they don't teach people to think for themselves. If they did teach people to think for themselves, we wouldn't have democrats and republicans and the housing stupidity. Follow the bouncing ball.
  • May 21 2013: I believe that terminal diseases are natures' way of controlling our numbers, whereas we think that everybody has the right, whether born physically able to or not, to procreate at will and contribute to a world where the majority do not have enough to eat. There needs some kind of intervention to halt the ever-increasing human population and its devastating effect on the planet. To want to "cure all terminal diseases" is idealistic, naïve and immature, the sort of thing an 18 year old Miss World candidate would think was the "right" thing to say. Quality of life is about more than being able to pop a pill to cure an ailment or illness, or provide wheelchair access and "special" schools for the disabled. In the wild when a creature is ill, injured or otherwise unable to feed or defend itself, it is taken by those stronger, and becomes a useful and invaluable part of the food chain and cycle of life. Those born disabled are not raised in the cozy confines of the den, home-tutored on killing prey and survival skills they will never be able to use, brought regular meals by the pack and given to think they deserve to lead a normal existence. True nature has its own way of dealing with "glitches" in the system. Natural selection. Quality of life is producing young that are born naturally strong, fit and healthy, with the best chance of survival through being of strong genes, able to grow to feed and fend for itself, and only the strongest and fittest contributing their genes to the better evolution and survival of the species. You want to fight against nature, against natural selection and survival of the fittest, a system that has created a planet which can evolve, sustain and nurture life? A system that has been in place for hundreds of millions of years before us and no doubt hundreds of millions more after we are long gone? How many more lives need "saving"? You are misdirected. Finding a cure to all diseases goes so much deeper than just money and scientists.
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      May 22 2013: It has been said that our next big discoveries are going to be in the area of medical science. Humanity and technology are changing and growing at a never before seen pace in our history. There has been more technological advances in our last century than had ever occured before. It has also been suggested (Jason Silva & others) that mankind is on the brink of creating the singularity whereupon a machine will be capable of thinking for itself as in artificial intelligence. It would have instant access to EVERYTHING we know and be capable of cross referencing, algorithmically computate DNA sequencing and so much more.
      In this context everything changes and mother natures way of doing things would have been substantially altered. Not only that but there is already talk of populating Mars and I don't think it is too much of a stretch to eventually see mankind populating other planets and solar systems. In this way Earth will be no longer our sole place of residence for humanity. The weak, frail and injured will be no more ( essentially, marring other factors). :D
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      Jun 1 2013: Thanks for sharing your opinion Claudine.
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    May 13 2013: You have a great dream Olivier but there is no cure to all terminal diseases and there is a system in place.

    People in different countries are pursuing research and studies and there is system like jourmnals, symposiums, conferences , workshops etc where these people share their experiences for the benefit of each other and humanity.

    But we can always find a better way to collaborate. Any ideas?
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      May 13 2013: You have a great dream Olivier but there is no cure to all terminal diseases and there is a system in place.

      I'm not so sure about that.

      Ideas for collaboration? Yes...

      1 - Create an International Association of Research Institutes for each terminal illness identified so far.
      2 - Eliminate the competition but create incentives that maximize engagement on all levels (research, distribution, funding, etc)
      3 - Improve transparency

      and many more... :)

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    May 12 2013: A great question.
    The honest answer is :
    "Getting people together" is the REALLY hard part!
  • May 2 2013: All terminal diseases? Always be careful and never use the words all, always, and never.
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      May 2 2013: please explain George...
      • May 2 2013: Oliver I just included an old joke making fun of me making fun of your use of all. It's a softener. I wish we could solve all of them whatever that means, but just some would help so much. And with mosquito netting we could make the world so much better by controlling malaria. What I was trying to do was make a comment to specify more and maybe we can also draw more people to your concern, and your concern for Haiti and malaria, shisto, and dengue fever is very important. I know that in North Central Texas we are having West Nile problems which is similiar to Dengue Fever. I assume Haiti has Dengue Fever as there have been recent outbrakes in Cuba. Godspeed - I and everyone hopes that the battle against disease goes well, but it's a big one.
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          May 3 2013: Ah ok...I see...I am from Haiti, but I'm not concerned about Haiti only. I'm concern about diseases all over the world.

      • May 3 2013: Oliver,I know that - I just read your profile, and it seemed you might be expecially concerned about those diseases that could be helped just by spending more money - I know I feel that way too. I am sorry if this was not helpful, but some diseases are going to be harder to help and some may never have a real solution. The flu is continuously mutating. That is all that I am trying to say. Also, we are especially concerned about Haiti which I thought had one of the lower life expectancies in the Hemisphere. We also run into the problem of the Hayfleck limit. I have been convinced that in the healthier countries that may be a severe limit to greatly extending their life expectancies. I spent a year on Okinawa, and i was impressed by the long healthy lives of the ladies there. Godspeed my friend.