31 January 2007

Pledge to the World - Part II

Part One: Puerto Rico can--should--undertake the clinical trials for developing dichloroacetate, known as DCA, as a cancer-fighting treatment. Call it "Our Space Mission," a national project to benefit the world.

Part Two: How?

Let's start with the key physical component: qualified laboratories. These would run from pharmaceutical-grade to clinical, from sheer equipment to patient-oriented. At present, Puerto Rico has around 18 world-class pharmaceutical laboratories (private and university-based). Although having one or more dedicated laboratories would speed up the clinical trials, We could "timeshare" these labs and use the overall proximity the Island's small size imposes to keep all the research teams "connected."

If you think face-to-face doesn't matter in these things, you're wrong. Human beings are very much social animals that thrive on personal contact. Scientific endeavors with millions of lives at stake must have the greatest possible contact levels to ensure the best results.

As for patient-oriented labs, at the clinical level, Puerto Rico has a second-tier hospital network (lacks world-class cancer treatment centers), but this is actually a plus because it keeps the DCA trial simple: Chemo- and radiotherapy are the methods most likely to reflect DCA effects.

With a population density of over 1,000 persons per square mile (the U.S. averages about 240), Puerto Rico can offer up--sadly--a wide range of cancer patients coming from a variety of backgrounds, from the controversial Vieques bombing area to the Agent Orange-strewn west central mountain region, not to mention other rural and heavily-populated urban centers.

And as hosts, We have three distinct university systems--two are private--that could jump at the opportunity, not to mention several teaching hospitals who could see this project as a way to make themselves an international beacon for students of oncology.

Now, the intangibles: Do We have the will?

Pardon the pun, but the answer is: Not now, but We will.

For one, hardly anyone on the Island knows about this idea. That will change.

Second, although We tend to wait for the government to step in and take the lead, in this case, the government is clearly in second position. Although they will provide some or even most of the $400-$600 million tab, once private industry, academia and the general public come together, the government will have no choice but to provide some level of support. The DCA Pledge to the World is exactly what the government has been trying to create locally for economic growth: a tripartite fusion led by industry and academia. Backing away from this DCA Project would be tantamount to slamming the door on future progress, but more importantly, would leave The Fools out of the white-hot limelight this Project would generate.

And if there's one thing Fools love almost as much as money, it's white-hot limelight.

And third: We have a clear-cut potential spokesman, leader and rallying point for The DCA Pledge to the World, a former Health Secretary with impeccable credentials, excellent presence and passionate vision. His name is Dr. Johnny Rullán. His integrity and drive would spearhead the effort to take The DCA Pledge from idea to conceptual plan to final reality. With Dr. Rullán and dozens, maybe even hundreds of Our best professionals behind The DCA Pledge, We can give the world a life-enhancing gift unlike any other ever given.

One that Dr. Rullán can personally appreciate better than most of Us as he continues his own battle against cancer.

And finally, for those of you who simply have to have some "Uncle Sam" connection, the former Surgeon General of the U.S., Dr. Richard Carmona, is Puerto Rican and has been very public about his opposition to cancer-inducing products. His inspiring and unique climb from poverty to Surgeon General along with his engaging public personna could add plenty of influence in the development of The DCA Pledge.

When Jack Kennedy challenged the U.S. to reach the Moon, the nation was barely a hundredth of the way there. For The DCA Pledge, We--Puerto Rico--are better prepared. And what We can achieve could surpass even the vaunted windfall of "One small step for Man."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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