Panacea (medicine)

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The panacea (IPA [pænəˈsiə]), named after the Greek goddess of healing, Panacea, was supposed to be a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. It was sought by the alchemists as a connection to the elixir of life and the philosopher's stone, a mythical substance which would enable the transmutation of common metals into gold.

Compare: patent medicine, snake oil

Medical science, in some sense, continues to look for a "panacea" and an "elixir of life" of sorts. The current focus may be on the immune system along with the role of genes and interplay of heredity and environment - but the desires to "cure all", to "retard the aging process", and to increase the "quality of life" are strong motivating forces. The areas of scientific endeavor that research these first two "alchemical" goals cross several disciplines and sub-disciplines besides chemistry, i.e. molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, and immunology.


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