An opinion piece by Siddhartha Mukherjee on the need for further funding for cancer research and some details, for those interested, in pancreatic cancer genetic and related mechanisms. I think more emphasis on prevention should have been part of his message but his point about the need for research funds still stands. Quote:
I wonder whether Jobs himself might have enjoyed the strange challenge of creating anti-cancer drugs: it is, after all, the ultimate design problem. Molecules have to be made to “fit” exactly into unique clefts and pockets of a cell’s machinery in order to logjam malignant growth. Extraneous bits and pieces have to be shaved off so that the drug can bind to its intended target with a neat, satisfying click. The human testing and clinical trials that follow drug discovery present peculiar operational challenges. And there’s production and safety monitoring that come after. The popular press has adopted the term “designer drugs” for the new generation of molecules that can target cancer cells with exquisite specificity. I like to think that the ultimate designer of our generation might have had something to add to this most profound frontier of design…..
Cancer, meanwhile, marches onward. The statistics are stark: in the United States, one in two men and one in three women will encounter it. One in four will die from it. It’s important—given the complexity of the problem—not to oversell the speed or effectiveness of cancer research. Creating new medicines for cancer is slow, painstaking, time-consuming work. But that’s precisely why we need federal support to keep this process intact. It is exactly why—when Congress chooses to ax the NCI budget—we should take that decision with utmost seriousness. If we don’t generate enough political support for cancer research, we will not bring to life the kinds of medicines we need to treat our own cancers in the future—including the kind that killed Jobs. The vast gene-decoding efforts of the last decade will remain abstract, academic exercises—biology without medicine.