Friday, September 26, 2008

Cool Technology of the Week

You may have seen the recent American Express Commercial featuring Jim Henson, Ellen DeGeneres and others which highlights "The Members Project", a $2.5 million grant program for innovative, out of the box ideas.

The funds to be awarded are
* $1,500,000 for the winning project
* $500,000 for the 2nd place project
* $300,000 for the 3rd place project
* $100,000 each for the two remaining finalist projects

One Project, New Affordable Cancer treatments, was submitted by a group from the Boston healthcare community. It's a cool idea.

Cancer incidence is rising at an alarming rate all over the world. As many with cancer know, treatments are often toxic, marginally effective, and expensive. For patients without health insurance, here and in the developing world, many newer treatments are simply too expensive.

And yet, there may exist today new, affordable and effective treatments for cancer using combinations of generic drugs and substances that were never patented. To be truly useful to patients, one needs to conduct clinical trials with these substances to determine the proper combinations and doses for effective therapy. Pharmaceutical companies will not invest money in such trials, since the profit potential with non-patentable or patent expired drugs is small.

GlobalCures was established last year as a non-profit medical research organization to address this problem. GlobalCures’ outstanding scientific team has identified many promising treatments available immediately to test in clinical trials.

The GlobalCures idea was posted under the title: New, Affordable Treatments with Existing Drugs . After the first round, thanks to the overwhelming support of voters and the review panel, the project is in the top 25 (out of 1190 projects posted).

If you're interested, you can help in two ways
1. If you have an Amex card, you can VOTE for the project by clicking New, Affordable Treatments with Existing Drugs (you will need to log in on the top right corner of the page)
2. Help us spread the word about the idea by posting to your blog, facebook, website etc.

The Idea:
The idea is to rapidly develop affordable, new therapies for major diseases by conducting clinical trials with combinations of generic or unpatented substances. Pharmaceutical companies will not conduct such trials, since they will not be able to recover their investments. Without evidence from such trials, doctors will be reluctant to prescribe such medicines and health insurance will not cover their cost. We estimate this idea will reduce suffering and save millions of lives within a few years.

The Problem:
Most laboratory research that generates ideas for promising therapies is funded by the government. Pharmaceutical companies then conduct clinical trials to get FDA approval. Since clinical trials are expensive, only lab work with patent protection is singled out by commercial enterprises for further investment. This scenario has left behind untapped opportunities: potential therapies based on substances that were never patented or generic drugs that could be used for new indications.

A cool idea that could save lives by better using technology we already have!


Kat said...

Neither of your links work today.

Unknown said...


You should recommend this group check out Google's "10 to the 100th Project." They are committing $10 million to idea's that help improve people's lives.

New Affordable Cancer Treatments certainly should fit the profile.


John Halamka said...

Thanks for the comments. The Global Cures link is fixed.