Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's next? A cure for baldness?

After my recent rant about the hopeless state of chronic tendinitis, I have to point out that it appears doctors may be onto a possible cure. What's slightly weird about this, however, is that the story appears on the NYT's sports page, even though they happen to have a perfectly good health/science page on the same day.

In a nutshell, the idea is to bombard the afflicted tendon with the person's own platelets. Simple enough. However, we haven't had any corporations funding the big clinical trial for this, instead we have professional sports team docs trying it out on their multi-million dollar charges. Presumably that's because there aren't big bucks in it for Pfizer. Come to think of it it's not clear that there's anything here that's patentable.

This is rather reminiscent of how a lot of important technology doesn't get developed until somebody decides it would be useful for war fighting. Antibiotics, your Intertubes, the Global Positioning System, all came out of military research. Will platelet-rich plasma therapy make it from the NFL to poor saps like me? We'll just have to wait and see. But one more reason why we need to get basic clinical science research out of the private sector and organize it in the public interest.

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