Heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States. However, the condition has been getting increasingly less prevalent, leading to a contender coming up from second place. I’m talking of course about cancer, a scourge which has already become the number one killer in 21 states.
And despite all the best efforts of the medical community to come up with a way to cure it more easily, or even to prevent it entirely, few accomplishments have actually been made in the area. And this is mainly because when people think of the “cure for cancer”, they don’t actually know what they’re talking about.
You see, saying ‘the cure for cancer’ is pretty much like saying the ‘cure for allergies’. There are so many different types of the illness, all starting in different area of the body and affecting it in so many different ways, that you can’t really come up with a cure to fight all of them. What you can do is to come up with a way to get the body to fight back.
But this is where the necessity for a lot of money comes in. As the Obama administration put it, we are in need of a cancer moonshot – about a billion dollars that would go into funding research, allowing the researchers to pursue their ideas without financial limitations holding that back.
And we just got a quarter of that sum, as Facebook founder Sean Parker donated $250 million to cancer research. The money will be divided between six different cancer research centers around the United States, most of them focused on immunotherapy.
The immunotherapy treatment became very popular after former president Jimmy Carter reported this December to have made a full recovery and to be completely cancer-free after employing the technique. Expectedly, the treatment isn’t without its downsides, and it is used only as a last resort.
Very interestingly, immunotherapy works wonders when it actually works, but it seems to take only in 30 or 40 percent of cases. Additionally, most patients actually relapse in three to four years, and the doctors have no idea why the therapy works for some patients and it doesn’t for others.
Even worse, the treatment is only used after every other treatment has failed, and the patients are left with the bulk of their immune system destroyed by chemotherapy. But this new funding might actually make a difference.
While the cancer survival rate has only gone up 4 percent in the past 20 years, from 13 to 17 percent, it’s mostly because of lack of funding. Now that six large, well-equipped centers are going to get enough funding, we might actually see some improvements over the next few years.
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