If medical research does not appear profitable, it usually gets shelved. But now, through networking and crowd-funding, research is also found in less commercially viable areas. Scientists around the world are taking the initiative themselves.
Instead of complaining about the pharmaceuticals industry, researchers are now taking care of the "orphans" of medicine such as the rare nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ALS themselves. For example, the Ice Bucket Challenge fundraising campaign in the summer of 2014 gave ALS research a real boost, raising several million dollars within a very short time. That actually led to the discovery of a new ALS gene: the NEK1 gene, two years later. So are crowd-funding and networked research the future of medical science? Research teams around the world are looking for a drug to combat malaria, for example, and are foregoing patents in the process. A US foundation is pushing ahead with the approval of a contraceptive for men after the pharmaceutical industry showed little interest due to its unprofitability. Can this grassroots support develop the sort of pioneering spirit that would be stifled in the classic R&D of the private pharmaceutical companies? The documentary examines alternative forms of pharmaceutical research and encounters optimists, lateral thinkers and movers-and-shakers.