Kantar Health Blog

What Marty McFly may have really wished for this week

by Mark Sales | Oct 22, 2015
Mark Sales

Delorean in ManchesterAs a complete geek and film and TV fan, this was a big week for me. Marty and Doc Brown were supposed to arrive in the future on 21st October 2015 – some reports even had them arriving at media city in Manchester, and the scientists at CERN had a spare superconductor laying around from the large hadron collider and made a hoverboard.

But one of the things that hit me in such a positive way was that it made me do a little more research into Michael J. Fox and the early-onset Parkinson’s disease that he was diagnosed with in 1992. Seven years later he did an amazing thing when he announced to the world what he was suffering from: He formed The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which according to Wikipedia has raised over $450 million and started its own clinical research program. $450 million makes it the biggest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s research in the world, but it’s half the oft quoted amount needed to bring a drug to market.

I have so much respect for someone like Michael who has used his disease and his renown to not just build disease awareness but to become possibly the strongest global patient KOL for clinical research across any disease area. He more than deserved the Nike Mag self-lacing shoes he showed off at his on a talk show this week; he is even auctioning these to raise money for the foundation.

I wonder if the real news this week that would have had Doc Brown shouting “GREAT SCOTT” would have been the news from Novartis about Tasigna (nilotinib), its leukemia drug. In a small trial with 11 patients with Parkinson’s disease with dementia, Tasigna has given a wheelchair-bound sufferer the ability to walk and another the ability to hold a conversation.

Some of the advances in the past 30 years have been amazing. Can you imagine life without your smartphone or even social media? But it makes me proud to work in an often-bashed world of medical science that over the past 30 years has worked to map the human genome, invented the STENT, developed treatments for AIDS, and every day looks for treatments that may help people like Michael J. Fox.

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