The what, why and how of health and development

Crowdfunding cancer treatment: ICancer scientists asks public to dig deep to fund research

Most of us have heard of crowdfunding – raising small donations from a large number of people to fund the start up of a project, business or community initiative.

Now, scientists are trying to use this method to help get a potentially life-saving anti-cancer virus out of the freezer and into human trials. Swedish researchers launched that ICancer campaign, aiming to raise £2M from public donations to begin testing the anti-NET cancer virus, the same cancer that killed Steve Jobs just over a year ago.

The treatment has not been funded by traditional avenues of investment because it is too early to guarantee it can make a profit. The clinical team behind it have also publicised their research to help advance others working in similar area, but without the patent, the research is less attractive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in.

This is an interesting and unique approach to funding research and, if successful, could spark many similar campaigns into other areas of medicine. But some have warned against researchers moonlighting as fundraisers, asking whether it’s right for the public to decide what treatment should be funded. To me, this seems an odd view to take as, even if this took off, it’s unlikely to even come close to matching support provided by the pharmaceutical industry or by international funds such as the Global Fund to fight HIV, TB and malaria.

It’s good to have diverse funding streams, from the commercial sector, public sector, non-governmental, and of course the public themselves. In some ways, it’s not different from the £10 a month you might give to Cancer Research, although this goes direct to the scientists.

Regardless, their campaign video (posted below) is worth a watch. To donate or find out more visit their website:


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