Cancer – a topic which is close to my heart made me get started with the edition of TED Summaries from now on. I would like to sincerely thank a wonderful acquaintance and an amazing persona, Anusha Sridharan for having me getting involved in this beautiful collection.
We are no less aware of how prevalent the deadly disease, Cancer has come of age. We all must have had known someone close to us who in spite of having no bad habits and leading an almost perfect and healthy lifestyle, get hold of this disease. And by the time the symptoms appear, it’s generally Stage 3 or Stage 4 which makes the case even more difficult to treat and have the patient recover completely. The speaker says at least one in three get diagnosed with some or the other type of Cancer and one in four dies from this.
The biggest challenge with Cancer detection is that symptoms appear late. Even though we have had an advancement in the treatment procedures, we still use the old techniques when it is the time for detection, especially once the symptoms start to show their forms.
The speaker along with his fellow scientists who hail from Chile, Panama, Mexico, Israel, and Greece came up with a vision to have a way to detect cancer in the early stages itself. For, this is when a patient has the highest chances of complete recovery.
Since Cancer is altered gene regulation, they came up with a technique that deals with the molecular level of detection using the concept of ‘MicroRNAs’. RNAs are the ones producing the requisite proteins for myriad bodily functions and MicroRNAs are the intermediary to produce them. The MicroRNAs are highly sensitive small regulatory gene expressions.
The speaker further adds that since no two cancers are alike, there would be a unique molecular pattern pertaining to each type. The challenge is that the existing DNA technology cannot be used for the nucleotides are smaller than the DNA and that all are very similar making it difficult to differentiate.
As such, they came up with a model that used data science, a 3D printed device, and microbiology. All we need is around 1 ml of blood and this tool. The working prototype showed that the detection takes around 60 minutes of time to detect the MicroRNAs in the sample via chemical reactions, match with the various cancer patterns and predict the type. Currently, this has successfully detected pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and hepatic cancer.
This method would be open source for the goal is to make the detection easier, cheaper, reliable, accurate and affordable.
All in all, this talk simply blew my mind for the vision and the efforts that must have been put in to come up with such brilliance that has the potential to change the way Cancer is perceived in the society. We need more such advancements for us to conquer this traumatic disease.
The link to this talk – https://www.ted.com/talks/jorge_soto_the_future_of_early_cancer_detection#t-665370