• Question: If you could cure any disease what would it be and why?

    Asked by lydiamoore14 to Meeks, Pete, Stephen, Steve, Tom on 21 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Steve Roser

      Steve Roser answered on 18 Jun 2010:

      malaria. Look at the numbers who’s life it ruins

    • Photo: Marieke Navin

      Marieke Navin answered on 18 Jun 2010:

      That’s a tough question, to pick one when there are so many…i’m sorry Lydia I don’t think I can pick just one

    • Photo: Tom Hartley

      Tom Hartley answered on 18 Jun 2010:

      I think it would be AIDS because that affects so many people around the world and many of them are young. I am not really equipped to contribute to this research, but my work may one day make a small contribution to the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimers Disease (because I came up with a memory test that might help detect it early on – that’s a big MIGHT). AD is a very upsetting illness which doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I worked for a while in a hospital where people with AD lived out their last years. Many people can live fulfilling lives with the disease (e.g., author Terry Pratchett) for a long time. But it was very hard to see how so many old people end their lives, losing their memories, the ability to talk and move around – everything, frankly, that makes life worth living. I don’t want this to happen to me, or anyone else, so it would be great to think I could make a difference, however tiny.

    • Photo: Stephen Curry

      Stephen Curry answered on 19 Jun 2010:

      Hi Lydia

      That’s a challenging one – you really have the knack of getting to the hear of the matter!

      Diseases take many forms. I looked up a 2009 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to get the numbers. To quote the summary”

      “The leading global risks for mortality (death) in the world are high blood pressure (responsible for 13% of deaths globally), tobacco use (9%), high blood glucose (6%), physical inactivity (6%), and overweight and obesity (5%). These risks are responsible for raising the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers.”

      “The leading global risks for burden of disease (sickness) are underweight (6%) and unsafe sex (5%), followed by alcohol use (5%) and unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene (4%).”

      So many people die because of bad diet, addiction to smoking and lack of exercise. We already have a pretty good idea how to tackle these, though it can be difficult to get people to change their habits.

      The burden of illness is mostly caused by poor nutrition (probably due to poverty) and exposure to infectious diseases, either through unprotected sex or bad hygiene (living in areas where there are no sewers and you are exposed to dirty water a lot of the time).

      The solutions to many of these problems require political action but science can certainly help to combat the infectious diseases. Among the worst of these are HIV (AIDS), TB, malaria, measles and respiratory diseases such as flu and whooping cough.

      So, if I could cure one it would be HIV, since this seems to be the single biggest killer.

    • Photo: Pete Edwards

      Pete Edwards answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      I’m going to chicken out of answering this question lydia. I don’t think I can pick one particular disease but if I could I would improve the quality of peoples lives around the world by providing them with supplies of clean water. Many diseases are caused by poor quality water and the poor health of people that follow from that.