Redefining Our Social Contract for the War on Cancer

Cancer Guides

What is a social contract? A social contract is an agreement for mutual benefit between an individual or group and the government or community.

Since the 17th century, social contract theorist have pondered on the phenomenon of the social contract. Social contracts are strictly bound by the personal power and conscience of the individuals. Under a social contract, individuals voluntarily consent to give up their natural freedom to obtain the benefits of political and social order.

The social contract that has historically guided the war on cancer is: “Research for a cure.” In this contract, individuals agree to give money to cancer research organizations who in turn create cures for cancer that benefit society. Unfortunately, the premise underpinning this social contract is misleading. Cancer research laboratories will probably never produce “the cure,” as cancer is many different diseases employing a multitude of mechanisms. They will produce important research leading to discoveries; but this is not equivalent to cures. Their talent lies in discovery of possible cures, not in the generation of cures themselves. For the latter, expertise in translational, applied research is needed. Under the current paradigm of pharmaceutical product development, this task falls largely to biotechnology companies.

Biotechnology entrepreneurs advance the development of research discoveries by (a) conducting a series of validation and safety experiments that (b) ultimately enable new treatments to be approved by the FDA for testing in human clinical trials. These two steps currently represent the bottleneck to development of medicines that may better manage or potentially cure, the many different cancers the public currently endures.

The problem with our current funding ecosystem is that biotech entrepreneurs increasingly lack requisite financial resources to succeed in their translational work. Funding pools that typically had supported bio-entrepreneurs are insufficient, and drying up. Lack of funding constrains developing viable solutions and cures to cancer.

Music Beats Cancer proposes to change this. We are helping to create a more effective social contract for the war on cancer. Through online crowdfunding, our model enables the public to play a greater role in shaping a more innovative approach to fighting cancer. Music Beats Cancer is the first in-kind not-for-profit organization that directly connects individuals who care about fighting the war on cancer with biotech entrepreneurs who are actively working on cures.

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