Currently there is no dedicated industry or government effort aimed at creating a more fundamental understanding of health. Such an effort could provide the knowledge we need to create cures to the 10,000 known diseases. If nobody else will step up, maybe what we need is an “Ice Bucket Challenge” to fund efforts that seek to do this.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a huge success. In 2014 alone, the concept raised $100+ million dollars for ALS research, which is over twice as much money as NIH put towards the same cause. This week the ALS Association is reporting that money from this campaign funded research that found a significant gene, which appears to be a major factor in ALS. The takeaway is that it is possible to accelerate research for health related issues outside the “limelight” by looking to things like crowdsourcing via social media as unique funding streams.
Now, not to downplay the finding of this new gene related to ALS, but as exciting as this might seem, this finding isn’t likely going to lead to a cure anytime soon. This is simply because finding a gene is only one piece in complicated puzzle that is disease.
Let me explain.
Genes can be compared to players on a sports team. Teams are made up of a variety of players and work together to achieve some goal (e.g. win a championship). Often there are all-stars that really make the team what it is, but a team is always more than one player. And just like one all-star really can’t win you a championship, a single “all-star” gene likely won’t be all you need to find a cure to a disease.
Furthermore, teams need coaches, a person that understands how the game is played and why the team works like it does. In general, this is the problem with all disease, we lack the knowledge of how and why disease occurs. If we want the championship of medicine (i.e. cures) then we need to a real scientific understanding of health.
This is why we need an Ice Bucket Challenge for Cures. We need to stop waiting for others to see the importance of funding a cause that attempts to integrate all known theories of health and disease; one that provides some sort of physical, mathematical basis for human biology.
Let’s dump ice on our heads to fund the search for Maxwell’s equations for biology!
Let’s spread the love on social media promoting the quest for health’s E=mc^2!
Creating a real theoretical understanding of health/disease that can be traced to the fundamental properties of matter will not just help find cures to diseases like ALS, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc., it will provide the pathway to find cures to any and all disease.
Let’s start this journey with an Ice Bucket Challenge for Cures!