• Question: which types of dieases can never be cured and why?

    Asked by henrydavidson1996 to Alex, Amy, Andy, Georgia, Ollie on 21 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amy Reeve

      Amy Reeve answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Henry

      I think that eventually all disease will be able to be cured. At the moment science and medicine don’t have all the answers to what causes them which is why so many can only be maintained with drugs. I think the most difficult to cure will be the genetic diseases. but i am 100% confident that one day we will be able to do this. i think the cures will have to be tailored for the individual disease though. but whether we give patients a pill that can affect gene expression, or something that will protect their brain cells from damage. We will be able to do it.

      Science will need to change all the time though, especially since new bacteria, viruses will continue to evolve. We will always need researchers to investigate these new diseases too 😀

      hope this helps

    • Photo: Alex Munro

      Alex Munro answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Henry, that’s a really good question; two of us in the office have just been discussing it…

      We think that the diseases that will probably never be cured are those that result from random genetic mutations, and affect e.g. the development of a foetus. Even if the complete genetic profile of two parents were known, random genetic faults/mutations could never be predicted…

      Also, developmental processes are of a ‘one way’ nature…once a developmental period has passed, there’s no going back. Even with gene therapy, once a developmental milestone has been passed, it cannot be undone… Drugs and surgery could maybe help at a later date (assuming survival), but the underlying fault may probably never be truly corrected…

      This is an excellent question for debate! There are so many factors to consider…

    • Photo: Ollie Russell

      Ollie Russell answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Henry… i think that as our knowlegde of biology increase we will begin to know how everything in the body interacts and affects different systems. Right now we are no where near understanding everything which is why scientific research is so important.

      Eventually we will know how everything works and we will be able to rpevetn and cure every disease. I think the only typ of disease we may not be able to cure is addiction. It mainly takes will power to overcome addictiopn, and if people dont want to be cured, then I doubt they ever will.

      Hope this helps!

    • Photo: Georgia Campbell

      Georgia Campbell answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Henry,

      like Amy, I’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to cure almost anything in the future – diseases that are incurable now are just diseases that we haven’t yet figured out how to treat! I think some of the hardest diseases to wipe out will be viral. Medicines that target viruses home in on the specific proteins that they express on their surface, but some very clever viruses (like influenza) can change the proteins they express, so we’ll constantly have to find new cures to target them!

    • Photo: Andy MacLeod

      Andy MacLeod answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Hi Henry.

      I think cancer’s going to be difficult. There’s not just one type of cancer, but many. Cancer happens when your cells multiply out of control. This is caused by an build up of mutations within one cell that means it ignores the usual cell division checkpoints. Some of the mutations will be inherited, so already in the cells DNA, but a lot of these mutations will be due to environmental conditions.

      We may be able to put the genes right, and decrease the risk of developing cancer, but due to the environmental influence, I don’t think that risk will ever be zero. The best we can hope for is early detection of tumours, and develop safe ways for their removal. We can already do this with some types of cancer, and as the science developes, our ability to safely treat cancers will certainly improve. But I think it will take a long time before we can say that cancer is “cured”.