Google’s approach to cancer: Copying the pharma business model
Over the past few days, newspaper headlines have excitedly been proclaiming that Google is working on a cure for cancer. In a patent filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published on 5 March, a wrist-worn device is described that “can automatically modify or destroy one or more targets in the blood that have an adverse health effect.” Widely trumpeted by the media, the patent specifically refers to the possibility that such targets could include cancer cells. So is this science, or hype?
Google’s proposed approach involves the patient swallowing a pill containing minute particles, known as nanoparticles, with markers that attach to cancer cells. After circulating through the body, the nanoparticles – apparently with the cancer cells in tow – are attracted to the wrist-worn device by the emission of a magnetic field. The cancer cells would then supposedly be modified or destroyed by the device via the transmission of energies such as infrared or ultrasound signals, radio-frequencies, acoustic pulses, or magnetic fields.
Accompanied by eyebrow-raising claims from Bill Maris, managing partner and president of Google Ventures, the company’s venture capital and investment arm, that it is possible for humans to live to the age of 500, it is has been clear for some time now that Google sees the fields of medicine, drug development, molecular biology and genetics as potential sources of multi-billion dollar profits. Significantly therefore, the team behind Calico, a biotech company established by Google and Arthur D. Levinson in 2013, have had long term links to the pharma industry. Levinson himself, for example, was formerly a director of Roche and chairman and chief executive of Genentech. Other Calico team members have worked in similarly senior positions with these companies.
Perhaps not surprisingly then, when digging beneath the hype behind Google’s new medical ventures one finds major parallels with the pharma industry’s business model.
Firstly, hi-tech though they may sound, Google’s approaches are still not addressing the primary cause of chronic diseases. Instead, the deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other micronutrients that are at the very root of the development of cancer and other diseases are simply being ignored. As the pharma industry has long proven, this is a highly profitable approach as it ensures that patients’ diseases and health problems will continue to occur.
Moreover, it is highly significant that Google’s approaches are based on patented technologies. Just as with synthetic drugs, for example, patents on hi-tech medical devices essentially allow their manufacturers to arbitrarily define the profits they make from selling them. And, just as with the pharma industry, for such profits to continue it is essential that diseases continue to exist.
As such, rather than pinning their hopes and lives on multi-billion dollar “moonshot” projects that do not address the primary causes of diseases, patients would be better advised to take advantage of the existing science behind Cellular Medicine and other nutritional approaches. Not only are these approaches already available, they are scientifically proven and have long been shown to be safe. For our Foundation, science – not hype – is the only way forward.
20 March, 2015
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