Monday, May 28, 2012

Web 3.0 medical research

This is a great idea !!

One of the biggest challenges to curing or treating disease is that when big pharma funds it there is an inherent bias to design the studies to maximize statistical success, even if that does not maximize biological success.  Researchers with pharma funding also have a tendency to publish positive results and toss the negative ones.  This makes sense scientifically to some extent because non-statistical results often don't get accepted to journals anyway.  Why waste the time trying?

But what if we flip this on its head?  Who has the greatest stake in biological success?  The patient of course.  But patients can't afford the millions needed to fund medical research.  Well, what if we bring our Web 3.0 tools to the problem.  How about if we:
  1. Use reputation management to select the team of researchers
    • rich profiles to identify who has what skills
    • expert ratings among researchers to identify talent and ability
  2. Use crowdfunding to raise money and to provide treatment.
    • philanthropists could donate because it is the right thing to do
    • patients could invest, with the return being medical care when a treatment has been approved (using the profit margin that the patient is now the investor rather than a drug company).  The research team/patient investors would outsource the drug manufacturing to the big pharma so they would profit as well, just in a different way.
  3. Use social networks to recruit for clinical trials, with anonymous patient support group networks being a primary target.
  4. Use a wiki to consolidate all of the data - positive and negative.
What do you think?  Could it work?  Is it worth a try?