Lack of Patent Killing Cancer of Cancer?

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The importance of patents has been on the rise, and more so has its significance grown in the world of biotechnology. Some studies suggest that the biotech industry spends about 40-50% of its revenue on R&D, which catapults the necessity to protect its research results. But how many biotech researchers have the funding to patent their inventions? It’s a question that glares in the face when you learn of the breakthrough made by two researchers at the University of Uppsala in Sweden.

Tucked away in the northern fringes of Stockholm, Professor Magnus Essand and Dr Justyna Leja have together engineered a ‘safe’ virus that can attack neuroendocrine cancer or NET (the one that wasted away Steve Jobs). What makes this a welcome virus is that while it eats away the tumor, it is believed to have only flu-like side effects on the patient. And even better is the promise of coming cheap and precisely affecting cancer cells.

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Sounds too good to be true? Well, the scientists have repeatedly proven their discovery in top journals but in vain. It’s not because people do not wish to accept it, but because the researchers do not have the funds – a minimum of £1 million and a maximum of £2 million to create a fab version of the ‘virus’ – that doesn’t give them that moneyed advantage of funding human trials. What’s sadder, lack of funds is also keeping the virus Ad5[CgA-E1A-miR122]PTD away from earning itself a patent and also further development, which is finding biotech companies shying away.

Undeterred and determined, the scientists have now hitched upon the idea of selling the name of their virus to pay for its development! So how many of you out there would like to go down the history of virology and medicine with a medical therapy tagged to your name?

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