posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 12:45 PM
Working in the medical field myself, I have often been shocked by the number of treatments for cancer and diabetes that show a great deal of promise,
but aren't making it into actual trials. I've tracked a couple of these--one of which held promise as a potential basis for the first ever
anti-diabetic drug, but I've seen this happen with cancer studies as well.
What happened to those studies is very interesting, frankly. After a few months, once the internet hubbub had died down, I patiently waited for
scientific papers to be published on the findings.
Researchers have to publish something ...some account of what they did with their time, equipment, and funding, even if the results are
ultimately discarded or their hypothesis disproven, but I've heard nothing further on several of these "breakthroughs," so far, and for studies
like that to simply vanish is unheard of; search through a public-access engine like Google Scholar for a fine example of what I mean, here. If
nothing else, this kind of research is often taken as a challenge to bored wiz-kid researchers seeking to disprove findings in university labs and the
Now, it may well be that something was ultimately published as a thesis or grad school project, which means that it will moulder on a shelf somewhere
until the end of time, but... with something as "hot" as this topic has been, I would expect any such paper to be snapped up by the larger journals,
It's also possible that they simply haven't been written yet--research takes time, papers take time, and no one would publish much of anything
unless the results were conclusively completed. On the other hand... given that the results were reported, one would assume that the original studies
were at least near completion. Otherwise, it would be a bit like reporting the outcome of a race at the starting line.
The other possibility is that the funding on such research was yanked, which happens quite often, particularly in our current economy with so many
universities cutting costs across the board (which, as the majority already knows, means that the football team will have new bleachers and uniforms
this year while the science department continues to limp along with outdated equipment and buys their lab rats out of pocket... but I'm not bitter).
Fund-pulling is the fastest possible way to kill research dead, and a lot of our research comes by way of the academic environment... and a fair
amount of that research is funded by pharmaceutical companies these days (to cover the funding gaps mentioned above) which means... it's in their
best interests to "un-fund" things that can't be translated into, well, money-making opportunities.
Cancer treatments are one of the most lucrative branches of the pharmaceutical industry, and I truly hate to even suspect that they might have a hand
in prolonging the existence of such diseases, but there have simply been too many "breakthroughs" that never see the light of day for me to ignore
this as a possibility.
To set my own mind at ease, I will also mention the possibility of private funding--if the results hold promise, as with the potential anti-diabetic
drug mentioned above, it's possible that a pharma company could offer additional funding, have the researchers sign non-disclosure agreements, and
keep a lid on all results until they're ready to take the new treatment to market or run official (read: human) trials on same.
That would also make a very good way to quietly end research on something that works a little too well, however. The company funding it can
always say "the results were not borne out by further studies, the research was ended" and under the terms of non-disclosure, no one could even
Just 'cause I work in it doesn't mean I'm not suspicious of it...
[edit on 3-2-2009 by quitebored]