July 23, 2008

Scientists: Let's Get Crackin'

[By Crabby]

(Photo by practicalowl)

So Women's Health magazine ran an article recently highlighting some of the "Next Big Things" on the horizon in terms of medical advances. You know, the stuff researchers are busy working away on and they're almost there and any minute now they'll have it all figured out?

And it's a great list, as far as it goes. Make sure to read all about it if you want to see where scientists are in terms of these health breakthroughs:

1. Male Birth Control
2. HIV vaccine
3. Condomless STD Prevention
4. Female Viagra
5. Needle-Free Blood Sugar Test
6. Easier Cancer Treatment

Hint: They ain't quite there yet. So keep your pants on (and we may mean that literally, if you're waiting for numbers 1, 2, or 3).

But since I have slightly different priorities, I'm afraid my personal Breakthrough Wish List wouldn't look much like this one.

For example, is it just me, or does it seem like instead of working so hard to develop female Viagra, they should just take away male Viagra so that older couples are back on the same page again? Then those elderly couples who'd rather watch 60 Minutes most nights could do so again, guilt free.

Because to be honest? All those high-pressure TV commercials with amorous geriatric couples just chomping at the bit to Do the Wild Thang Every Chance They Can Get after 50 years of marriage--well, they're scaring the crap out of me. You don't have to be constantly horny in your Golden Years, do you? Surely that can be optional?

So here's my Viagra-free personal list. Note that I'm also not including stuff like time travel or living forever or becoming invisible or enabling people to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Mine are all reasonable requests, ones that shouldn't be that hard--and some are WAY overdue.

1. Fake Low-Cal Foods That Don't Taste Like Crap and Won't Kill You

I know lots of you wouldn't touch a new Franken-food no matter how tasty it was or how many studies proved it was safe. It's the principle of the thing, right? Natural is always better! (Unless we're talking about our cell-phones or laptops or indoor plumbing).

But me? I don't care if a food is natural or if it's fake as long as it tastes good and won't eventually poison me. I like things that are sweet and greasy and would like to eat many more of them! I'd be perfectly happy eating lots of real, whole, natural foods to meet my nutritional needs--but then afterwards scarfing a bunch of fake no-cal fun food. Cupcakes and ice cream and brownies and cheeseburgers and nachos, hurrah!

The trouble is, the food industry spends way more time trying to sell stuff than actually testing it, and our government doesn't seem to give a rat's ass whether they poison us with carcinogens or not. Plus the fake stuff doesn't actually taste very good.

With all the money they pour into the quest for guilt-free fake food, why aren't they better at it yet?

2. Artificial Cartilage

I'm one of the many Baby Boomers who has trashed her joints through years of pavement-pounding but continues to run anyway. Yet the idea of an eventual knee replacement totally freaks me out. (Just the word "bone saw" is enough to make me want to barf). I've been reading about promising cartilage alternatives for what feels like decades, but where the hell are they already?

C'mon, with all the nano-particles and genetic engineering and other miracle medical inventions, why can't they do fake cartilage yet? I'd SO much rather add some extra cushion to what's there than chop the whole dang thing out.

3. Sunscreen in a Pill.

This has been "just around the corner" for a long time. I won't repeat my sunscreen tirade, but please, please, please hurry up on this one.

4. Instant-Advil

Or Instant-Aspirin or Instant-Tylenol, whatever. I'm a wimp when it comes to any kind of pain, and it just seems like they should have a quicker means than this old fashioned "wait 45 minutes for it to get digested and end up in your bloodstream" business. What if I have killer cramps NOW???

Lets get going with an inhaler or something you put under your tongue or even, God Forbid, a portable injection. I would seriously rather shoot up and hurt for a second or two than wait forever for the damn pills to work.

5. Virtual Colonoscopy

Hey Doc? Get The Hell Away From Me.

These are supposed to be here already. First I read they worked great and then I read maybe they didn't, and then I thought I saw a study that said yeah, they work just fine... but "bottom" line, I've never heard of anyone whose gotten a virtual one yet. Doctors always seem to insist on the real kind.

I'm a few years away from having to do my first one, but I'm already dreading it. I do NOT want to be drugged and then have someone snake a giant scope way up my ass and look all around. There's even supposed to be a kind on the way where you swallow a tiny camera that takes pictures all by itself on the way down. (Though I'm not sure how the retrieval process works... that can't be fun.)

6. But Before Any of The Rest of This Stuff:

How about we throw a few more resources into curing fatal and/or severely disabling diseases? I think it's sad that we have so much money going into developing pills to keep guys erect or creams to make women wrinkle-free or 9 zillion products to make our teeth white, when we still haven't figured out how to cure cancer or MS or AIDS or any number of awful diseases.

I might even trade my sunscreen pill for that.

So what would you guys put on your list of health breakthroughs you're tired of waiting for?


  1. Great and creative post!

    And who knew you'd be a joint thrasher in your first life?!

    I'm with you on the fact that we're perfecting the Misting Tan in a Booth stuff (with new!improved!scent!) while we're simultaneously not moving forward on many life threatening disease fronts.

    Oh, and I'm with ya on the removal of the viagra as well.
    Or at least on my most tired days as I peer down the road toward old age.


  2. Hey Crabby, I'm soooo with you on all your ideas today, esp: ""instead of working so hard to develop female Viagra, they should just take away male Viagra so that older couples are back on the same page again"" My husband looked at me really sad though when I made a similar comment at home recently. Obviously, the one you left off and the one that will make the entire developed world finally truly happy and enable us to get on with the rest of our lives: SUPER, MAGIC WEIGHT LOSS PILL--you can eat what you like and be a size 6 forever-- I think the scientists may already have this (proof: i haven't seen any fat scientists), but the government is making them hold it back as the economy would surely collapse...

  3. Seeing as how I am a medical scientist working on finding both cures and causes of cancers, I agree with throwing out viagra and putting all those billions of dollars to better use.

    First on my list? Better treatments for the most aggressive of brain tumors.

  4. Or spend more time trying to find a treatment for antibiotic resistant TB. I mean... Screw that!! We want old little ladies who don't want to have sex but kind of want to want to, to pop a pill and.... "hey, what's up baby?"
    But I am with you, if we're gonna be frivolous, let's be REALLY frivolous.
    I want a deodorant that will shut out arm pit sweat ENTIRELY. Not a drop, I will always be totally dry, and it also will not be made of heavy metals that can leak into my bloodstream please.

  5. Here's my list:
    - Non chemo/radiation/surgery cancer treatment for breast cancer (I had to have at least one serious one)
    - I'm with juicebox mom on the SUPER MAGIC WEIGHT LOSS PILL
    - A painless, non-vagina ripping or abdominal muscle-destroying way to give birth. Seriously. Why isn't this a priority?

  6. So true! SO TRUE! The old people wanting to do it...couldn't the benefit from your cartilage before they get to the business of doing it all the time first?
    Oh the brownies...I'm lusting over those.

    Great post!

  7. Good post, Crabby. How about making broccoli look and taste like cupcakes?

  8. Your #6 says it all. Absolutely. And I agree - I'd take your list over WH's any day! (And your rant about Viagra? Had me just dying over here. I know it's going to be a good day when I've already laughed out loud twice.)

  9. Love juicebox mom's suggestion. Broccoli that tastes like cupcakes would get eaten quickly here, too.

    For this mom of 4, though, how about a way to bottle up the kid's energy and give me some? That way I could keep up with the midnight water balloon fights without feeling so awful the next morning.


  10. I think the "Wizard of Oz" has suggested what humanity needs most from science.

    A Brain


    A Heart!!

  11. Allergy Cure! Seriously, if we can just figure out how to fix immune systems, we've got all kinds of cures.

    Also, I want InstaSleep: the pill that lets you nap for ten minutes and get a full night's rest.

    Mary Anne in Kentuckyzzzzzzz

  12. great ones! Those viagra commercials scare me too! I am having a hard enough time keeping up with hubby as it is...I am 38, he's 31 ;)

    I might like a virtual tummy tuck where I didn't have to go in for surgery ;)

  13. But Dr. J, you forgot the most important part of the equation... ruby-red slippers!

  14. Magic weight loss pill sounds good! I like the idea of sunscreen in a pill too, I didn't realize they had such a thing!

    I want a sleep pill - not a pill to help me sleep, but a pill that if I happen to not get my 7-8 hours, I can pop it and it will make up the difference for me without any wonky side effects.

  15. Sunscreen in a pill would rock.

    I'd also like a pill to help with my body's inefficient cooling system. When I run outside, I seriously sweat buckets and don't seem to get any cooler. Maybe a pill or spray could fix this...or maybe they could develop my own personal cooling bubble?! You know, it could just last an hour or so. Long enough for me to be able to run after 8 am and stay cool without coming home drenched. Yes, that would be awesome.

  16. i like mary anne's instasleep idea.

    although, part of me says that already sort of exists in the form of speed, but y'know.

  17. I'd love sunscreen in a pill. Except I'm rubbish at remembering to take pills anyway. So maybe just sunscreen in a once a year shot at the doctor.

    As for actual health breakthroughs that I'm tired of waiting for? How about something that fixes acne and doesn't cause my skin to get as cracked up as Amy Winehouse?

    Although obviously vaccines/cures for AIDS and cancer and the like are more important.

    As for the male viagra... I don't think viagra makse guys horny, I think it just lets them do something about it. I think guys are perpetually horny from the age of 13 or so and don't stop until they die. Their junk just has a tendency of giving up before they do.

  18. I TOTALLY agree about how skewed our priorities are. Seriously, how can we have so many people dying of hunger when theres more than enough to satisfy everyone? If we figured out the logistics of distributing food a bit better that would be one problem solved right there. And then that would be even more people available to become scientists and the like to discover cures for all the horrible diseases etc.

    Although I do love your little wishlist. You're awfully creative!

  19. I want potable water provided cheaply and easily for everyone and new antibiotics in the pipeline. Enhanced treatments for chronic viral diseases and better palliative care.

    But Crabby, about the knee: The still-new, minimally invasive knee surgeries are simply awesome. A 67 year-old man of my acquaintance had one replaced in the morning and climbed the steps to his apartment that afternoon. An 80 year-old friend of mine has had both of hers done now and is trotting out and about on acting auditions again. It's a way better, less dramatic procedure with a quicker heal than it used to be, and keeps improving.

  20. Hi Crabby! Regarding #1 about the fake low cal foods that don't taste like crap & won't kill you...I think I found something - I just tried Vitamuffin's Deep Chocolate muffin thats only 100 calories, 6 grams of fiber & 1.5 grams of fat and it was DELICIOUS! What do you know about this tasty treat? There has to be a catch because I think it tastes too good to be healthy for me...

  21. Why do all of these new "medical advancements" have me running for the hills for fear of what new chemicals they will introduce to our bodies. The last thing we need is more pills or drugs to put into our system. When they start finding ways to get us back to a more natural lifestyle I'll get on board.

  22. I just have to say:

    1. Clare knows the most interesting people.

    2 Anon, I am so with you on the Vita Muffins. The amazing thing is that the chocolate has a higher fiber content than the berries (cranberry and blue berry each have four grams fo fiber.) I always have a few boxes of the muffin tops in various flavors in my freezer. the berry ones are great toasted.

    Now as for this post: As a diabetic, I'll probably continue to finger stick rather than wear contacts.


  23. "How about we throw a few more resources into curing fatal and/or severely disabling diseases? ...we still haven't figured out how to cure cancer or MS or AIDS or any number of awful diseases."

    AMEN. As a person *doing* research into these things I'm amazed and disgusted that beauty and sex aids get more funding and time spent on them than actual useful research into curing diseases. If you can't sell it or profit off of it, just try getting funding...
    I'm on the edge about viagra...nothing against it in theory - it'd be nice if you lost the ability to and wanted to every once in a while, but sheesh! I think of all those poor old ladies. Plus things get old and wear out...it's just the way of things. My husband and I, um, tend to get up to things often and I'm glad to know help is out there if things ever got, um, broken, but honestly...way to kill the mood right there for me. "Hey hon, I took a pill so we have 2 hours. Pitter patter - come on over here lets go!" Bleah. No thanks...

    As for what I'd like (besides increased research funding for me and my peeps) is a transporter device for giving birth painlessly, a totally safe weight loss pill and fat free food that was actually good for me (vitamin enhanced chocolate?? Nutrient pie??).
    If you could get me some robotic eyes too...I'd be up for that - no cataracts or glasses, maybe with a zoom function and seeing in the dark. Nice.

    Lethological gourmet- there IS a prescription out for that. It's call modafinol. It takes away the feeling of tiredness without making you jittery or stopping you from being able to sleep if you want to. It just makes you not tired...

  24. Top three from Glamour-Geek:

    1) cure for common cold (I get these way more than I get flu)
    2) cure for TB
    3) cure for malaria

    Well, ok, one more. Instant cure for headaches.

  25. "Sunscreen in a Pill."

    Hurry it up already. I am getting tired of sweating this stuff into my eyes when I run.

  26. Apparently they're working on the artificial cartilage thing in Europe. I say, if you've been working on it for five years and you're supposed to be such a genius, get on it before I fly over and yell at you to GET CRACKING ALREADY.


    Also, anyone notice that they're breaking their necks to get out this female Viagra (*ew*) but dragging their *expletive deleted* feet on the male birth control?


  27. Plus, there are a lot of people here making absolutely brilliant suggestions.

    Size 4 forever and never another diet (just healthy food and work out, like, when you feel like it)? Sunscreen in a pill?

    Global food distribution logistics that actually work so that everyone gets fed???

    Bump it. Let's put you all in charge.

  28. I see your "sunscreen in a pill" and raise you a "mosquito repellent in a pill." and one day (dare I dream?), both!

    Also, along with good tasting fake sugary foods that won't kill you, can we also include "and that don't give you the runs?"

  29. Hmmm. Actually, I see the need for Viagra. No, I'm not a guy... but my grandfather was, and he had ED, and this completely shot his personality in the foot and left him lame and pathetic for the rest of his life... I think viagra is a wonderful drug that could save countless marriages from being over and save countless kids from being unloved because their parents aren't getting a hormone dump once in a while. Just my 2 cents there.

    However, Medical things, seriously:

    1 - Cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
    2 - Cure or treatment for food allergies, like peanuts & shellfish (have both in my household and god, do I miss peanut butter!) as well as wheat gluten and other life threatening food allergies
    3 - painless blood draws for people with easily collapsing veins

  30. I am seriously IN LOVE with the post and it's not frequent that I comment but I wanted to play a little devil's advocate here...

    I totally agree with the previous posters that research is stunted by lack of funding. It all boils down to the bottom dollar, people! Think about it. If there was a "cure" for AIDS (I say that because since there have been unremarkable breakthroughs in this field and the number of people advancing to AIDS from HIV has decreased drastically) all that money that they make on Atripla and Truvada would POOF! be gone. Let's make people pay ridiculous amounts of money and hold out on research for cures when we can pocket all the money ourselves! Bastards. (insert YouTube of the South Park episode where Cartman and Kyle discover the cure for AIDS is injecting money into the bloodstream).

    As for female Viagra, it was discovered that it worked in women who experience decreased libido while taking antidepressants (depression along with Alzheimer's and every other mental health disorder that I wish we could cure). Additionally, Pfizer who produces Viagra, didn't intend for this drug to target ED - it is actually used to treat pulmonary hypertension and is marketed as Revatio to avoid the stigma of being a woman or man ordering their "ED" med at the pharmacy. "uhhh...I take this for some hypertension thing..." I have seriously heard a woman say that at the pharmacy when being cashed out as to avoid all suspicion from the pharmacy technician. Like she should feel guilty for taking a medication that will save her life. Many of these drugs that "cure" this strange and seemingly odd and useless diseases and conditions are simply found serendipitously, maybe on the way to curing heart disease and cancers.

    Keep a watchful eye out there because one of your requests might be realized while on the way to curing cancer and arthritis.

  31. I would like my asthma cured, not controlled.

    I would like my allergies cured, not controlled.

    I would like my IBS cured, not controlled.

    I want a way to relieve the pinching of my Ulnar nerves that doesn't involve rerouting them to the outside of the elbow.

    I want my damn lymph nodes back!

    And while I'm at it, I want my 20year old body back! ;)

  32. Reb, ditto to cures!
    I don't want my twenty-year-old body back, though. I'm much healthier now. These days I hardly ever spend a whole day just lying down, and never a whole week.

    (anti-mosquito pill, yes!)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  33. Sunscreen a pill, Female Viagara? I am with you let's get rid of the male version. :)

  34. Top of the list? A cure for MS. My mother has MS, and has been unable to walk since I was in high school.

    Second? the ability to grow organs/joints/etc to be replaced. you know, got a bum knee? grow a new one! Even better, nanobots that fix it from the inside....

    Yeah, I'm a total Cyberpunk nerd I know....

  35. I loved everyone elses lists, and don't really have anything new to add as far as a cure list but I would just like to say that I am glad somebody found their RANT pill and the kittens and unicorn are Gone.Gone.Gone!

  36. Oh damn.
    Crabby, maybe we should re-think tomorrow's post about widdle furwy kittehs?

  37. This was a terrific post, and all the comments are great.
    The Bag Lady just wants haying season to be over so she can get back to the important things in life, like blogging....sigh

  38. That cake you mentioned...that should definitely be real. I still haven't found one, so I just make my death by chocolate cake on very special occasions. :)

  39. I'd be right there with you on request #1. I'd sell my granny for a snack food which has proper mouth-feel like chocolate, is full of vitamins and minerals and the like but has next to no calories. Better still, something like that, which doesn't give you cancer and which actually burns fat! Perfect!

  40. And some sort of treatment that genuinely allowed you to spot reduce fat, please. I'd like to remove some of the fat from my thighs and double-butt and make it be in my boobs. Please :)

  41. You crack me up, Cranky. (Take away the Viagra from the men, indeed.)

    I wish they would invent creams that actually do all the stuff those ads claim they do; melt fat, give you an instant tan, erase wrinkles, age spots and stretch marks, clear up acne and make your skin firmer.

  42. New Neurons -- for the brain...

    Hey, Crabby, we love you. WOuld you consider swapping links?

    :) Jamie

  43. More great ideas for the scientists, these are awesome!

    (And I did NOT mean to cast any aspersions on the scientists themselves, who are a hard-working, clever bunch, but on research priorities and funding).

    And thanks Jamie! We actually don't tend to swap links on request, but do occasionally update our random rotating blogroll in a haphazard manner, and try to include some of the CF's "regulars." We are, I'm afraid, way overdue!

  44. Crabby, you DO know that Freddy Fu at UPMC Sports Medicine has found a way to grow new cartilage?

  45. Susan--That's great! But these are exactly the kind of things I read about and then nothing ever seems to come of them... scientist are ALMOST THERE, but I want to see the stuff in my knees, not in a lab. But fingers crossed, maybe he's got the answer.

  46. I would be all over female Viagra. My husband and I are in our 40's, and I can't keep up with his sex drive. Sure would make for a more happy household!


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