A scientists who won a Nobel Prize for medicine said Wednesday that President Obama’s $1 billion dollar “cancer moonshot” is “all crap.”
James Watson, whose 1953 co-discovery of the structure of DNA launched a revolution in molecular biology and won him a Nobel Prize, thinks that Obama’s plan isn’t innovative and probably won’t work.
“The depressing thing about the ‘cancer moonshot’ is that it’s the same old people getting together, forming committees, and the same old ideas, and it’s all crap,” Watson said in an interview with StatNews. “Everyone wants to sequence DNA [to treat cancer], but I don’t think that will help you cure late-stage cancer, because the mutations in metastatic cancer are not the same as those that started the cancer.”
Obama’s plan is to immediately throw $195 million into the bureaucratic National Institutes of Health (NIH) for cancer research, and then set aside $755 million in mandatory funds for new cancer-related research at both NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Watson believes that current cancer researchers embrace of antioxidants may be precisely the wrong treatment, as reducing antioxidants in cancer cells may be the key to destroying them. Watson argued in a 2013 paper published by The Royal Society that using high levels of antioxidants as pills or even in foods may increase the risk of dying of cancer.
Critics have said that Obama’s “cancer moonshot” is simply “high-profile grandstanding accompanied by a profound lack of understanding of how to operate the levers of government to achieve public-policy goals.” Government bureaucracy is responsible for numerous cancer fighting ideas being stymied by government regulation before they can reach patients.
One of the most notable ideas being actively slowed by the government is using molecular genetic-engineering techniques to grow pharmaceuticals in plants, which has been greatly hampered by regulators in both the FDA and the Department of Agriculture.
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