Cures are not profitable.

A long time ago, when I first started working on probiotics (bacteria which you swallow and which save you from such horrors as squirty bottom), the aim of our science was to produce one you only had to take once. It was a constant source of frustration to us, in those days, to find that the bacteria would work as intended but would not stay in the gut for more than a few days.

Then the whole thing became commercially funded and a subtle change happened. One we didn’t see at first but which became clearer over time.

Our ideal would have been to go into a piggery, put our probiotic in one pig’s trough and have it spread throughout the piggery as a permanent resident. Passed from sow to piglet, that one dose would solve pig-gut problems forever. At that time I worked on agricultural guts but if it had reached that point, the same idea could have wiped out Clostridium difficile in hospitals and, eventually, entirely.

It was not to be. No funding for such a ludicrous idea could be found. The reason was that if such an idea was ever made to work, it would be like inventing a perpetual motion machine. If everyone had one of those, what then? How do you sell another one? If one dose of this imagined panacea managed to spread its curative properties everywhere, how would you sell another one? The next piggery doesn’t even need to buy a dose, they just need to borrow a pig from the first piggery for a few days. Or even a shovelful of pigshit.

The commercial people saw our inability to make the probiotic take up permanent residence as a feature, not a bug. Every pig will need a dose every day. That’s a lot of doses. A lot of sales and a lot of profit. Permanently curing the problem is not a commercially sensible option, to the extent that if I ever did find such a probiotic, an awful lot of people would pay me an awful lot of money to shut the hell up. Or they’d pay someone else to shut me up.

Now I work more on prebiotics – simple compounds intended to boost the inherent probiotic activity that’s already in every gut at a low level. You still have to take it every day but it’s far easier to make consistent and far easier to store than a live bacterial culture. It also has a much, much longer shelf life and all of that makes it a cheaper, if ideologically imperfect, option.

So a cure for cancer isn’t likely to happen – or maybe it already has and the inventor is very rich but living in a dungeon with his lips sewn shut. There are too many vested interests making sure it won’t happen while promising such a cure is just around the corner.

Not just the pharmaceuticals either. Imagine the effect on tobacco control, booze control, waistline control etc if their biggest scaremongering tactic, cancer, was easier to cure than the common cold. None of these people are interested in health and they never were. They are only interested in being in charge, and if you take away their bogeyman then you see the real, feeble little people behind the curtain.

How would the Puritan Antismokers get their sad little drones so worked up over nothing if lung cancer was no more of an issue than a wart?

Also, the antidrinkers, antifat, antisalt and pretty much ani-anything brigades use cancer as their bogeyman now. If you come up with a cure that involves no more than taking a pill for  a few days, there are many who will want you silenced.

And as we know, they have absolutely no qualms about what methods they will use.

If you do come up with a cure for cancer, use it for yourself, friends and family. Don’t tell anyone else.

Hate is a much bigger killer than cancer could ever be, and there is a lot more of it about.

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9 thoughts on “Cures are not profitable.

  1. I seem to remember (many decades ago at Kings) a research proposal looking at a similar process for dental caries (apparently part of the variation in dental work needed, which seems to run in families, was dependant on the strains of oral fauna and flora) identifying/developing a less destructive strain and then – bingo, no more dental work. Guess who never received any funding? What a surprise, all those dentists without work – just not gonna happen!

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  2. Oh Leggy, that triggered an in avalanche in my head.

    Brace yourself.

    Mapping the role of NAD metabolism in prevention and treatment of carcinogenesis

    “Studies presented here show that cellular NAD, which we hypothesize to be the relevant biomarker of niacin status, is significantly lower in humans than in the commonly studied animal models of carcinogenesis”

    “We show that nicotinamide and the resulting cellular NAD concentration modulate expression of the tumor suppressor protein, p53, in human breast, skin, and lung cells.

    Studies to determine the optimal NAD concentrations for responding to DNA damage in breast epithelial cells reveal that DNA damage appears to stimulate NAD biosynthesis and that recovery from DNA damage occurs several hours earlier in the presence of higher NAD or in cells undergoing active NAD biosynthesis.

    Finally, analyses of normal human skin tissue from individuals diagnosed with actinic keratoses or squamous cell carcinomas show that NAD content of the skin is inversely correlated with the malignant phenotype.

    Since NAD is important in modulating ADP-ribose polymer metabolism, cyclic ADP-ribose synthesis, and stress response proteins, such as p53, following DNA damage, understanding how NAD metabolism is regulated in the human has important implications in developing both prevention and treatment strategies in carcinogenesis.”
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/l81jk70227365585/
    Original link to mentorcorp no longer works.

    Niacin deficiency and cancer in women
    “A new interest in the relationship between niacin and cancer has evolved from the discovery that the principal form of this vitamin, NAD, is consumed as a substrate in ADP-ribose transfer reactions. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, an enzyme activated by DNA strand breaks, is the ADP-ribosyltransferase of greatest interest with regard to effects on the niacin status of cells since its Km for NAD is high, and its activity can deplete NAD. Studies of the consequences of DNA damage in cultured mouse and human cells as a function of niacin status have supported the hypothesis that niacin may be a protective factor that limits carcinogenic events”
    http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/4/412

    “Niacin deficiency in humans, which leads to low NAD status, causes sun sensitivity in skin, indicative of deficiencies in responding to UV damage.”

    “Niacin deficient keratinocytes are more sensitive to photodamage, as both poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases and Sirtuins are inhibited by the unavailability of their substrate, NAD+, leading to unrepaired DNA damage upon photodamage and a subsequent increase in cell death. Furthermore, the identification of the nicotinic acid receptor in human skin keratinocytes provides a further link to niacin’s role as a potential skin cancer prevention agent and suggests the nicotinic acid receptor as a potential target for skin cancer prevention agents.
    The new roles for niacin as a modulator of differentiation and photo-immune suppression and niacin status as a critical resistance factor for UV damaged skin cells are reviewed here.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19149600

    Niacin and Niacinamide In Flue Cured Cigarette Smoke Condensate August 10 1960
    “The susceptibility of mice to lung adenomas, induced by urethran feeding, depends upon the dietary supply of niacin.
    Furthermore, Strain A mice, on a niacin deficient diet, showed a greatly increased incidence of spontaneous lung adenomas; whereas, a supplement of niacin seemed to be protective.”
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/action/document/page?tid=pnx69d00&page=1

    Anti-invasive activity of niacin and trigonelline against cancer cells.

    “”The effects of niacin, namely, nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, and trigonelline on the proliferation and invasion of cancer cells were studied using a rat ascites hepatoma cell line of AH109A in culture. Niacin and trigonelline inhibited the invasion of hepatoma cells at concentrations of 2.5–40 μM without affecting proliferation. Hepatoma cells previously cultured with a reactive oxygen species (ROS)-generating system showed increased invasive activity. Niacin and trigonelline suppressed this ROS-potentiated invasive capacity through simultaneous treatment of AH109A cells with the ROS-generating system. The present study indicates for the first time the anti-invasive activities of niacin and trigonelline against cancer cells”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15785001

    Trigonelline – coffee, nicotinic acid forms during the roasting process.

    Now it may be only a small part of the jigsaw and a fraction of the studies I’ve read all saying the same thing. But you’d expect some sort of physical reaction if you suddenly stopped, no matter how minor the amount.

    Quitters finish first

    “Experience is their guide, numerically speaking. Of the 312 lung cancer patients they treated during a four-year period, 182 had recently quit smoking. The report goes into detail. “Each had been addicted to the habit no less than 25 years, smoking in excess of 20 sticks a day.

    The striking direct statistical correlation between cessation of smoking to the development of lung malignancies, more than 60% plus, is too glaring to be dismissed as coincidental.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/oct/16/highereducation.research1

    Many Lung Cancer Patients Stopped Smoking Years Before Diagnosis – 2010

    “Sixty percent of our cohort developed lung cancer despite doing the right thing by stopping smoking over 1 decade ago,” according to the researchers.

    These findings contradict the popular perception that most people with lung cancer are ongoing smokers who did not kick the habit until cancer symptoms appeared, the researchers note”

    “In 1995, California passed one of the first antismoking laws in the nation when it banned smoking in enclosed workspaces. This might have encouraged more people to quit smoking than in other parts of the country and might help account for the preponderance of patients in the earlier stages of cancer.”
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/725138

    You are the scientist, I am the amateur gardener, do you see what I see?
    Correlation not being causation, obviously.

    It might help to explain the sudden and desperate measures taken in the last few years.

    One thing I’ve noticed, when you compare it with other studies unrelated to tobacco, anti tobacco science seems to be back to front.

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  3. This is a topic I’ve considered before. One of my ongoing questions is how many charities have shut up shop because they’ve solved the issue the set out to address? The answer is of course none!

    Why are people getting sponsorship for attempting to sail around the UK in a wet paper bag so they can give the money to a cancer charity or research organisation. Ladies run around in ther bras for the same cause. How many billions of pounds have the cancer research organisations raised a d spent?

    Like all of theses things perpetual motion is the key. The goal is just too far away but they will continue trying to reach it. In the mntime they I’ll continue to spend money on their own salaries etc.

    Nice work. Morals?

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  4. If they did invent a cure for cancer, the antis would try and convince us it causes cancer. It bet it would work too.

    Cheers for the link.

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  5. I remember reading a book about this once, called “Cancer: Why We’re Still Dying for a Cure” (can’t remember who it was by, sorry), which focussed on the ability of the vitamin B17 (aka Laetrile?) to control and shrink cancerous tumours without any hideous side-effects – and the inevitable immediate reactions of various “vested interests” to (a) show studies of their own proving that it did no such thing, (b) to isolate and ridicule any scientist/doctor who supported the use of B17 or even further research into it, and (c) to scare the public away from trying it by over-hyped tales of dire and dreadful side-effects, mainly because, as a naturally-occurring vitamin, it couldn’t be patented. Have you ever heard about this Leggy? And if so, as a scientist, what’s your opinion on it?

    And yes, Tantrums. Charidees. A friend of mine once commented to me, when there was one of those Big Charity Events happening to save the world (I think it was that big “Make Poverty History” one): “We’ve all been giving money to these charities since before I was born. For decade after decade after decade. So why is it that year in and year out, they always seem to need more? If the billions that we’ve all dug out of our pockets over the years haven’t solved the problem by now, then it seems that we’re probably just throwing good money after bad. Whatever the receipients have done with it, it certainly isn’t what we intended them to do with it!” So true. As a result, I now have a golden rule. If a charity is big enough to be a household name and most people can say what (they think) it’s aims are, then it’s too big, it’s probably long ago lost touch with those original aims, and any money given will almost certainly just go to line the pockets of people who have a vested interest in the problems continuing. The only exception I make to this rule is the RNLI. All the others – Save the Cheeldren, Oxfam, CRUK, BHF, RSPCA, NSPCC – get a firm “no,” and any donation goes to a similar, but less well-known, organisation instead.

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