In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama made this pronouncement: "For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all." Leaving aside its nationalistic tinge, how can one fail to applaud the intention of this proposal? Read more about it here.
Let's do a little quibbling: First, the past is not a cheery guide. A previous president proposed a "war on cancer" in 1971 and the then director of the National Cancer Institute proclaimed that suffering and death from cancer would be eliminated by 2015. Second, most cancer researchers expect incremental changes, not an abrupt "once and for all cure." However, this may be nit-picking at what are worthy goals. The fact that more resources may come the way of cancer research can only be applauded. This may seem almost churlish in light of the pain and suffering caused by cancer, but one of the reasons for cheering this proposal along is that much has been learned under the guise of cancer research about basic biological phenomena. And there is every reason to believe that this will continue.
With this in mind, how can microbes contribute to this national (and, to our minds, international) effort? This has already happened – think of oncolytic viruses as an example – but surely more are conceivable. But rather than us coming up with a list, we invite you to contribute your ideas about how microbes can help in this effort. Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts about microbiological approaches to the "war on cancer."