Cold hard facts

06.09.48: CANCER AND heart disease are on the run but there is still no cure for the common cold.

That is the message from a report out this week from the Royal College of Physicians celebrating 50 years of medical advance.

We are living longer and suffering from fewer diseases, but we are still as likely as ever to have the misery of a runny nose.

"It's a useful antidote to hubris," says the RCP's Professor Roman Firenzi. "The problem is really economic. There are about 200 different types of virus and developing a drug for just one of them costs as much as E$1 billion. It's not worth it." Another difficulty is that laboratory animals do not catch colds, so there is no way of testing any new drugs. Hopes that the DNA vaccine would solve the problem have been dashed because the variety in the proteins of cold viruses is simply too great. However, the medical breakthroughs listed in the report (see below) more than make up for the occasional discomfort. JB


  • Organ replacements grown from DNA, so there are no rejection problems
  • DNA vaccines have Aids under control
  • Inherited single-gene defects eliminated
  • Drugs tailored to genetic types, reducing side effects
  • Nanorobots the size of molecules repair tissue damage and reverse some of the ageing process
  • Bio-sensors monitoring your health anticipate potential problems
  • Vid screens in most households advise on the latest medical treatments using virtual practitioners
  • Infertility problems all but eradicated
  • Average life expectancy is 93 years, with little serious disease before 80
  • Cancer and heart disease detected early and rarely become advanced

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