While crowd funding sites are used frequently for raising money to record CDs and produce movies, Toronto hospital uses crowdfunding and is doing the unthinkable by hoping that this funding craze will help them get a treatment that has a potential of saving lives from the lab for use by people in dire need of it.
For nearly two decades now, Dr. Gregory Czarnoto who works at the Sunnybrook Hospital as the head of radiation oncology has been working together with Michael Kolios of the faculty of science at Ryerson University to develop software which help in better management of breast cancer treatments.
When used together with ultrasound machines, WaveCheck helps in determining if chemotherapy is really working or not within a period of weeks instead of months. Getting this info early enough can help prevent patients from going through months of painful treatment which is unnecessary. This is largely because only less than 50 percent of breast cancer patients using chemotherapy become successful.
However, as the research continued to be more advanced, the more the funds it dried up. Sooner, the project wasn’t recognized to be ‘new and innovative’ anymore and this is the only category that attracts more grants, says Dr. Czarnota. But this didn’t mean that companies were ready to invest in the project.
The companies say that it is still in the science stage and will be brought to them after they have finished with it. This created a gap between developing the product and development of a tool which could be used in a cancer clinic and completing the scientific validation.
Sunnybrook hospital has used WaveCheck in over a hundred patients but only on trial basis. However, there is need to have it used at multiple places before Health Canada licenses it and gets offered widely.
Lack of grants however has left the researchers in application limbo where they have submitted applications and waiting for months before getting a response and resending the applications and having to wait again.
In light with this, the researchers are hoping that crowdfunding websites will provide an ultimate solution and address the nightmare of funding.
Dr. Czarnota says that they are left only with eight days before the campaign that has lasted for two months raises over half of the initially $96, 987 required to launch the additional trial.
The researchers have a goal of raising $687, 950 eventually which will help them launch trials in three leading cancer centers in the world. These are MD Anderson Cancer Center based in Texas, the Ont. And Princes Margret Hospital of Toronto and the London Health Sciences Center based in London.
Business development manager of WaveCheck and MaRS Innovation project manager by the name Fazila Seker said that WaveCheck wasn’t the first to use the crowdfunding platform as a way of accelerating research.
Seker said that, awareness must be got as there is nothing that people can do if they are not aware. After people are made aware and rally behind the idea, crowdfunding can really help in supplementing the dry funding landscape.
Some crowdfunding sites such as Medstartr and Start a Cure have been specifically launched to crowdfund medical research and WaveCheck has turned to Indiegodo, a general crowdfunding site, with the hope of reaching a wider audience.