What if we open-sourced the quest for curing cancer?


Personalise this! The customization of healthcare, with medicine tailor-made for each individual patient, belongs to the main research interests of current affairs. In this model, doctors aim to select appropriate therapies based on the context of a patient’s genetics.

The patient, which Salvatore Iaconesi points out in our TED talk of the week, which means “one who waits”, is generally on the passive, receiving end of this approach. The Italian artist, however, refused to slip into this role and developed his very own understanding of “personalised medicine”.

In September 2012, he started his project by posting “I have a brain cancer” on his website. What followed could be a revelation for many who couldn’t imagine how to respond to these words.

Yesterday I went to get my digital medical records: I have to show them to many doctors. Sadly they were in a closed, proprietary format and, thus, I could not open them using my computer, or send them in this format to all the people who could have saved my life.

I cracked them.

Iaconesi shared his data online – and invited the whole world to work on a “cure.” By open-sourcing his cancer, he did not only create a support group, but also a completely novel perspective on what “being cured” actually means: “There are cures for the body, for spirit, for communication.”

Therefore, contributions of the community at “La Cura” are not only limited to medical advice, but can also include art, music or emotional support. More than half a million people have taken part in the project. Iaconesi had brain surgery in February 2013 “and everything went perfectly.” Check out his eye-opening TED talk for the whole story!

Header image credits royalty free

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