There was much hype this week about a small British company that is on the verge of “curing cancer.” The Independent reports:
A single-storey workshop on a nondescript business park in Oxfordshire is not the sort of place where you would expect scientific revolutions to take place. But behind the white-painted walls of this small start-up company, scientists are talking about the impossible – a potential cure for cancer.
For the past 20 years, the former academics who set up Immunocore have worked hard on realising their dream of developing a totally new approach to cancer treatment, and finally it looks as if their endeavours are beginning to pay off. In the past three weeks, the company has signed contracts with two of the biggest players in the pharmaceuticals industry which could lead to hundreds of millions of pounds flowing into the firm’s unique research on cancer immunotherapy – using the body’s own immune system to fight tumour cells.
Immunocore is probably the only company in the world that has developed a way of harnessing the power of the immune system’s natural-born killer cells: the T-cells of the blood which nature has designed over millions of years of evolution to seek out and kill invading pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. T-cells are not nearly as good at finding and killing cancer cells, but the hard-nosed executives of the drugs industry – who are notoriously cautious when it comes to investments – believe Immunocore may have found a way around this so that cancer patients in future are able to fend off their disease with their own immune defences.
The leader of the research team, Bent Jakobsen, is Danish born, but the team largely English, which got me to thinking of the brilliance of British accomplishment.
Science isn’t truly practiced everywhere. As Gregory Cochran illustrates with this graphic, science is only performed in certain regions of the world (mostly by European or North Asian-descended peoples). And even then, certain European groups seem to outperform others (esp. the British, Germans, and French).
Regarding Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment, it’s really quite remarkable how many of the world’s greatest accomplishments were performed by the British. The UK has been a true intellectual powerhouse.
Here’s my own abbreviated list of major British scientific achievements:
Newton (physics, calculus, optics)
Darwin (natural and sexual selection)
Michael Faraday (electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis)
Ernest Rutherford (NZ of English ancestry, nuclear physics)
James Clerk Maxwell (physics, electromagnetism)
Charles Lyell (geology)
Arthur Eddington (astrophysics)
Francis Galton (HBD)
Alan Turing (computer language)
Watson & Crick (DNA)
WD Hamilton (Neo-Darwinism, inclusive fitness)
Quite an impressive list, given the UK’s size, which can only make one proud of his English ancestry.
On the downside, one only worries that mass Third World immigration into the UK will eventually have a dysgenic effect, bringing this long trend of accomplishment to an end.