Improving Treatment Tools

We need more efficient treatment tools to counter diseases, especially aging-related ones. Tools that provide more accurate and targeted treatments, such as genetic engineering and nano-robots, are emerging, but each of these treatments comes with limitations and risks. As a result, these tools struggle to achieve mainstream uptake.

@bnoy, @dai_andrew, @GeorgePerry, @Steve_Liebich, can you recommend (potential) breakthroughs in treatment tools you are excited about?

@bbergstein, @Mellie64, @baldhame9, @namkugkim, and @DanielaHaluza, can you recommend potential breakthroughs in health that would make our vision for 2040 achievable?

We want to usher in a future where living to 100 and beyond is no longer exceptional; inequities in global health have been eliminated, and everyone has access to essential health services; and infectious diseases are effectively managed through rapid and equitable treatment distribution.

The best breakthrough ideas will be developed into ideas for XPRIZE competitions in the next stage of the Global Visioneering program.

First, I want to say I am pleased that the community is being asked how we can improve treatment tools. Second, I want to say that this is too limited a question. The real question is how can we improve health care delivery? Absolutely, we need new treatment tools as part of the solution. But XPrize need not limit itself to a prize for developing a system for manufacturing artificial proteins needed to cure this or that illness such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or Alzheimer’s etc. For instance, in my fifty years of working on health care issues I have found that huge differences in health care delivery were possible with relatively simple steps. For instance, we could eliminate much teen pregnancy with proper sex education. We can prevent accidents in the bathtub with a handlebar. XPrize prefers high tech and I undrstand that. But maybe using a highly sophisticated computer program on a superfast machine could help us learn more about the medical knowledge of the ancient Celts, Vikings etc. That is high tech but why would anyone want to do that? Maybe, because the development of medicine over the millenia has not been a simple straight line up. Maybe it has been more like a trend upward with periodic sharp drops and peaks. We do know for instance that the Romans were more advanced technologically than any civilization in their part of the world until the eighteenth century. Is it so far fetched to think the Celts who were in contact with the Romans for hundreds of years did not learn everything about medical advances in the Roman world (plus their own discoveries).? It stands to reason that the Romans who believed a house without books is like a man without a soul had loads of books about medical treatments ewpecially herbal remedies they learned from conquered peoples and others with whm they came in contact. But translating these books is difficult for two reasons. One is that the remedies may have been written in code only known to the members of various sects, disciples of famous healers etc. And another is that the books may have burned in such firs as those of the library at Alexandria and similar collections in the ancient world. But new advances in technology is making it possible to read these damaged texts as in the case of the Dead Sea scrolls. So XPrize could maybe spnsor a prize for deciphering more of these ancient manuscripts that contain medcinal remedies and make translating them perhaps go much faster than currently.

I apologize for being a party pooper. The question to be asked is what better early disease prediction and prevetion tools we need? We can’t build an economy based on chronic diseases but rather develop health resiliency.

The technology tools to afford large poulation screening will be low cost, accessible and affordable multi-omics kits, couples with periodic self-care digitally connected checkups.

Thank you both for your comments, @boblf029! You are right much can be achieved with simple steps, and a lot can be achieved by universally implementing by what we already know works.

McKinsey estimates that applying known interventions globally and with the best tools available, we could reduce the world’s disease burden by ~40% by 2040, save 230 million lives, and give those in middle age 10 more years of good health.

But… that means this doesn’t need an XPRIZE! An XPRIZE competition is about incentivizing breakthroughs that wouldn’t happen with it, or wouldn’t happen fast enough. It needs to be bold and audacious.

I gather from @ymedan’s comment that “better treatment tools” may not be bold and audacious enough, either. I’ll leave this open in case anyone disagrees, but in the meantime I will open a separate threat to discuss breakthroughs for early detection and prevention.

Does XPrize have a valuable role to play in health care? I think the answer depends on how one defines bold and audacious. The basic principle I will argue is that Xprize is about incentivizing qualitative differences. That is what Nick means by “bold and audacious.” But I would say that a sufficient quantitative difference can be a qualitative difference. That is accepted in science. And I think bold and audacious can therefore be empirically equal to a sufficient quantitative difference to yield a qualitative difference.

Let us agree at the outset that, yes, an invention based on technology not yet invented, perhaps stolen from a visitor from another planet (plagiarism from aliens is not yet a crime or unacceptable to win an XPrize) would certainly qualify. But a real revolution in health care from my standpoint is not necessarily a based on a new theory. Let me take an example from elsewhere. I recall that Samuel F.B. Morse showed his telegraph to Michael Faraday. Faraday, everyone will agree was an outstanding scientist. Faraday sneered that Mr. Morse’s invention was hardly special since it was based on off-the-shelf science. And Faraday was indeed correct. But historians think that the telegraph was one of the most important and revolutionary developments in Victorian England. It was the first time instant communication over vast distances was possible. Now, I do not mean to be unfair to Nick but he would Ii think sneer, as Faraday did, at a health care delivery system using off the shelf technology to deliver great health care to people who beforehand had nothing more than the local shaman, or a single physician who had trained fifty years ago and learned nothing new etc. Very well. But I think if XPrize awarded a prize fro revolutionizing rural healthcare delivery in the United States using off-the-shelf technology that would be pretty impressive to me. And I can think of ways in which that could occur. For instance, with advances in AI and high speed computers could we not have a medic on the battlefield or a “barefoot doctor” in New Guinea perform coronary bypass surgery in a place far from where the usual specialized medical doctors and surgeries would be located? I think that might be possible and I think that might be a real solution to the problem of too few health care resources in rural or remote places. So, while I think it is up to XPrize to say what constitutes bold and audacious I favor a definition that sees a huge difference in effectiveness of health care delivery as worthy of an XPrize award even if the technology utilized consists of a group of small improvements/ modifications in current ways of doing things.

You make a good point! And maybe I focused a little too much on technological innovation, but certainly “bold and audacious” can also come from the impact of a prize competition.

For example, “expanding essential health services to 10 million people in 1 year” would be hugely impactful and audacious, regardless of the means by which it is achieved.