• Question: Will your experiments save lifes and how ?

    Asked by mattc003 to Cathal, Daphne, Darren, Jon, Katherine on 13 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Katherine Haxton

      Katherine Haxton answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      I don’t know. They might do. Some of my experiments are about making new materials that will deliver anticancer drugs in a smarter way. If those experiments work, then there are hundreds of experiments that will then need to be done before those materials would go anywhere near patients. And they’d all have to work really well!

      Once we make the materials, we have to measure how much of a specific drug they can hold, then how fast they can let it go. We test this in conditions like the human body. If a material is really good, it can move on to other kinds of experiments involving cells from the body, and animals. The process of getting new medicines approved is incredibly expensive and takes a really long time.

    • Photo: Cathal Breen

      Cathal Breen answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      Some of the experiments I am involved with aim to detect problems with a persons heart sooner rather than later, so essentially this will help to save them from dying earlier than expected from a heart problem.

    • Photo: Darren Logan

      Darren Logan answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      No, not directly.

      There are various types of scientific experiments. Those that are “applied” to a specific disease that may help save lives, and those that are aimed at understanding how things work in general. The second type is called “basic” science.

      Basic science is important because it discovers things that “applied” scientists then use to help diseases. So, to give you an example. We are trying to find genes that control how we behave. Once we find these genes and learn how they work, we hope that other scientists will use this information to test new treatments into diseases like autism or schizophrenia – where people behave in unusual ways.

    • Photo: Jon Benton

      Jon Benton answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      I’d like to hope so but it isn’t a direct solution to anything. Hopefully a part of my research will become useful in the future for developing cleaner fuels for vehicles which will then mean we are less reliant on fossil fuels which would hopefully reduce pollution and slow global warming. However what I’m doing is a very small part of a very large problem and it will likely take many many tiny steps like what I’m doing to get a solution.

    • Photo: Daphne Ng

      Daphne Ng answered on 18 Mar 2012:

      They won’t directly. Not at this moment. But hopefully they will help make our Earth a more pleasant (and cooler) place to live in by slowing down global warming.

      Similar to Jon, what I’m doing is still in its early stages. And actually Jon’s research and my research are sort of related. So both of us are taking small steps towards solving a much larger problem!