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Possible cure for cancer in decade - DNA pioneer

File photo: James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project.

File photo: James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project.

Published Jul 13, 2012


London - One of the men who discovered the structure of DNA has turned his mind to another scientific conundrum – the cure for cancer.

Dr James Watson said that it should be possible to cure four in five of all cancer cases within a decade – but only if scientists revolutionise the way they approach the disease.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Dublin, the Nobel laureate accused cancer researchers of thinking too narrowly and of being afraid to take risks.

Dr Watson said: “I think we should focus on why we can’t cure it.

“I think if we know why we are not able to cure it and if we can write down on paper ways by which we might overcome these things, then we have a chance.

“People doing cancer research don’t try to know everything, they don’t seem to be willing to take chances.

“We think they must be really clever people – no they’re not – but they are no worse than other people.”

The 84-year-old, who has written a scientific paper on cancer, also said that there is little point in catching the disease early because of the worry it causes.

He added: “I think you just want to be able to cure it at the end and not worry about the beginning and it’s cheaper.”

The American, who has previously caused an uproar with his opinions on intelligence and homosexuality, also said women can be a distraction to academics.

Speaking of his pivotal work on DNA in the early 1950s, he said: “I was just lucky there were no women there – I might have been thinking about them instead of DNA. I think having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they’re probably less effective.”

Vegans and “whacko” environmentalists also came in for criticism. But he said being an environmentalist “is not as bad as being a vegan”. - Daily Mail

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