Thanks to hard work and perseverance of cancer research scientists, there are miracle treatments available today that we could have never imagined even 10 years ago. Life expectation for cancer patients has increased greatly, and more than one million cancer deaths were avoided in the last 20 years, according to the 2012 American Cancer Society report.
However, is this all in the name of science and patient care?
Currently, there is a great gap between basic research on one side, with patient’s benefits and commercial success of such research on the other. Moreover, in the current economic times, with massive budget cuts and the pharmaceutical industry suffering from multiple crises, scientists have reached a point when their primary goals are questioned and their motivation is challenged. This means that scientists’ funding is primarily based on their success rates – how many papers they publish in influential journals or how many patent applications they have. Scientists have to rapidly adapt and selectively choose their ‘most-likely-to-succeed’ projects to take forward. They are reaching a point where patient benefit takes the second place to speed of publication. Society needs to step in and give the power back to scientists. Society should support those ‘less-profitable-but-still-essential’ projects that neither government nor pharmaceutical companies are interested in funding. Scientists need to feel secure that their focus should be the patients’ wellbeing.
In an ideal world, the society and science research professionals would all be working towards the same goal: from biological concepts to developing drugs to clinical trials and treating patients.