01 February 2007

Today's Bio-hacker Heroine, Tomorrow's Hope

There are so many threads here:

What could be a life-saving breakthrough in the fight against cystic fibrosis, cancer and AIDS has been achieved by a 17-year-old Indian-American student at the Mississippi Institute of Mathematics and Science.


the young scientist turned to Ayurvedic medicine. Madhavi, who was born in India, spent a great deal of time watching her grandparents, who were practitioners of the traditional Indian healing techniques. "I grew up learning a lot of that," she recalls. "They've used it so much that I know it has some effect. They wouldn't have used it for centuries if it didn't. So I decided to try that approach, and it worked."


While Madhavi could become a millionaire by patenting her work, she has something else in mind: making it openly available. She points out, "If I were going to patent this, the rights would have to be sold to a pharmaceutical company, and that would greatly increase the cost of the drug once it's developed. So to prevent that from happening, by publishing it, the information becomes readily available and any company that wants to manufacture it, would be able to. So the price would be much lower due to competition and the people who need it most will have access to it."

There is the young bio-hacker, blissfully unaware that what she is doing is hard; there is the ancient medical commons, used, not plundered; there is an understanding that patents, that should open knowledge, often lock it up; and above all, there is a compassion and altruism that gives us hope for the future.
(Via Technocrat.)

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