New website crowdsources cancer therapies

As the web and social media become more ingrained in biotech research, a cancer patient in Italy has taken his own medical case to the online masses in search of a potential cure. Salvatore Iaconesi has developed a website called Open Source Cure, the BBC reported, and the site has enabled him to bypass traditional ways of seeking medical opinions and challenge traditional methods of collaborating for cancer cures.

Launched in September, Iaconesi's open source site has quickly triggered responses from medical experts and even some with wildly different ideas about combating cancer. In all, the BBC reports, his website spurred 200,000 responses in its first month. He's opting for surgery but rather than getting one or even a few opinions, his website, which exposes his medical records to visitors, has helped him solicit about 40 opinions on ways to do the operation.

As with any crowdsourcing effort involving the web, Open Source Cure has brought out some wild ideas about combating cancer as well as some medically sophisticated ones. Iaconesi has enlisted about 60 people from his online network to filter and categorize the avalanche of responses to his Gmail, Facebook and Twitter accounts, the U.K. news service reported.

"I had lots of advice about counting clouds and about magical, miracle treatments that would cure you in one day," Iaconesi said, as quoted by the BBC.

Iaconesi's efforts come as more groups seek open source platforms for exchange of ideas and discoveries to improve treatment of diseases. India's Open Source Drug Discovery has attracted thousands of researchers to aid finding therapies for tuberculosis and other health threats in India. And the online video game Foldit has made many non-experts active in projects to crack scientific riddles.

- check out the BBC's article