Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Vince Cable's "Science, Research and Innovation" Speech

Apologies about politicising this blog, but what happens to investment in science in the UK will eventually impact on the lives of people with MS and their families. The only way to limit the impact of this devastating disease is through scientific research. The unmet need in MS is massive:

1. We have yet to optimise disease-modifying therapies. Is expecting a cure too much?
2. What about restorative therapies?
3. Symptomatic MS therapies are dismal; too many side effects and limited or suboptimal efficacy.
4. What about prevention? Preventative strategies are just beginning to emerge as potential option.

Without investment in research how are we going to address these needs?

You may find Vince Cable's speech interesting.

Click here for his speech

5 comments:

  1. when I read your comment I realised how little has actually been achieved for MS sufferers given that research into the disease has been going on for over 50 years. I'm sure researchers would love to lots more funding, but MS sufferers want effective treatments now.

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  2. The trouble with MS research is that there seems to be no connection with the amount of money spent and the results achieved. Millions have been spent on some initiatives e.g. US MS Society's Promise 2010 - the fund raising always promises huge advances in treatments etc but they never materialise. With investment (too date) very little has really happened e.g. no treatment for people with progressive MS at all. The question shouldn't be why there isn't more funding, but why so little has been achieved with the huge investments already made.

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  3. I agree with some of the earlier posts on this issue. My wife has had this disease for c.20 years and I've lost count of the tiems her neuro has said that good things (treatments are just round the corner). There are three players in this sage all with different requirements:

    (1) MS patients who want to get better (or at least not to get worse). Even a cure.

    (2) Drugs companies who's purpose is to generate income / make profit for their shareholders. Getting patients on long term expensive patially effective treatments (e.g. interferons) meet this aim - the ls thting they want is a cure.

    (3) Academics and researchers who are judged on the number of peer reviewed articles or presentations at international conferences. They often rely on funding from the drugs companies so are not going to bite the hand that feeds them. And this is a career - many MS academics / researchers have been researching MS for 20+ years.

    Until this tension can be solved, it won't matter how much research funding is thrown at MS.

    I work in an industry and innovation is rewarded. I'd link future MS research funding to results e.g. produce a repair treatment to get people with MS out of wheelchairs. If the research fails to deliver then the funding is reclaimed. Too many MS research projects have been funded and all they have doen is get the researcher their PhD.

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  4. Prof G,

    As someone with MS I know the unmet need is massive. It's a pity that the reseachers can't focus on one aspect e.g. progression and solve it (as quickly as possible). There is so much different MS research going that the money is spread too thinly across the different research areas. Research is the hope and must be funded but the neurological research never seems to make the breakthroughs seen in the cancer field (I know you'll say its because they are better funded). Some good breakthrough (i.e how to stop nero-degeneration) would be the catalyst for attracting more investment.

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