How about a crash program in basic immunological research?

Jon Noring noring at
Fri Apr 9 13:43:44 EST 1993

A thought has been bouncing around in my brain and I wanted to share it with
those on the net who have knowledge in this area and are interested in it.

It concerns the importance to our society of *fully* understanding how the
immune system works.  A large fraction of medical ailments are intimately
tied in with the immune system in some manner:  AIDS, cancer, allergy, and
infectious disease are the biggies that come to mind.  The cost to society
of these diseases is enormous, not only in direct health costs, but also in
human productivity costs and even social "costs".

And it seems to me that most of these ailments and diseases could be cured 
(and I'll maintain a loose definition of the word "cured") if only medical
science *fully* understood the very complex workings of the human immune
system.  (A lot is known, but it seems to me a lot is still unknown.)

Thus, it seems to me that setting up an immense international research program
with the goal of fully understanding the human immune system, would be a good
idea.  I would size such a program comparable to the Apollo space program, or
even larger (multi-billions/year in funding).  Of course, we are in austere
times, but if the success of such a crash program would effectively "cure"
(or quickly lead to "cures") for these major ailments, maybe we can't afford
not to do it.  After all, I wouldn't be surprised if the "cost" of these
ailments to the U.S. alone amounts to well over $100 billion per year in
medical costs/loss of productivity/social costs, and significantly more for the
entire world.

Any comments?

Jon Noring


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