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Old 05-15-2013, 03:41 PM   #21
xyzzy123
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Originally Posted by briandc View Post
just as an application can be made to scan an entire computer for a virus, why couldn't a computer application be made that can be used to locate cancer cells within the human body?

Since cancer cells have a very unique "code," and the entire human genoma has been discovered, couldn't a computer with a probe be used to scan areas of the body for cancerous cells, and eliminate them without the need of drugs or surgery?
You probably want to do a web search on "nanomedicine".
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Old 05-16-2013, 02:15 AM   #22
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That sounds nice and wonderful, but its impossible for a computer to identify cancer cells without sufficient knowledge of what that cancer cell is. You also greatly underestimate the difficulty in distinguishing such cells, especially early on from surrounding tissue. And how exactly is a computer going to get to cancer cells that are located in the middle of an organ surrounded by healthy tissue that needs to be saved? This is not a problem for computers, it is a problem of biology, of medicine. Computers do already aid both doctors and biologists, but it can only do so much.
Once a characteristic unique to the cancerous cells is found, removing them would be about as easy as retouching a photo image.
Here are a couple of interesting concepts that *might* be in line with what I think a computer might use to destroy cancer cells:

Photoacoustic_imaging_in_biomedicine

Segmentation_image_processing


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Old 05-30-2013, 05:54 AM   #23
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Once a characteristic unique to the cancerous cells is found, removing them would be about as easy as retouching a photo image.
Here are a couple of interesting concepts that *might* be in line with what I think a computer might use to destroy cancer cells:

Brian
I know of no technology that can scan at the individual cell nor sub-cellular level, all the cells of a living human body. Individual cancer cells are examined microscopically on biopsied tissue - tissue surgically removed from the body and specifically prepared for that fine a level of scanning or imaging.

3d scanning of whole living humans is not remotely possible on an individual cellular basis presently. Even the highest resolution non-invasive scanning techniques like high resolution NMR or CT scanning cannot even resolve things on the scale of the smallest macroscopic body components like individual micro-blood vessels. Nor are all tissues equally amenable to any single scanning technique - some technologies are superb for resolving soft tissues, but useless at resolving hard tissues, for example.

Your computer can scan for software viruses because every bit of code stored on a computer is technically accessible to the scanning software. Individual human cells in a human body are not all accessible to any current scanning or imaging technology. That's the very reason why current highest resolution scanning technologies like mammography miss a significant number of actual tumors (NOT individual cells, but multi-cell active tumors).

If we cannot yet even see all the multicellular structure of an intact human being, how would we even being to implement any sort of cellular level scanning?
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:01 AM   #24
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I know of no technology that can scan at the individual cell nor sub-cellular level, all the cells of a living human body. Individual cancer cells are examined microscopically on biopsied tissue - tissue surgically removed from the body and specifically prepared for that fine a level of scanning or imaging.

3d scanning of whole living humans is not remotely possible on an individual cellular basis presently. Even the highest resolution non-invasive scanning techniques like high resolution NMR or CT scanning cannot even resolve things on the scale of the smallest macroscopic body components like individual micro-blood vessels. Nor are all tissues equally amenable to any single scanning technique - some technologies are superb for resolving soft tissues, but useless at resolving hard tissues, for example.

Your computer can scan for software viruses because every bit of code stored on a computer is technically accessible to the scanning software. Individual human cells in a human body are not all accessible to any current scanning or imaging technology. That's the very reason why current highest resolution scanning technologies like mammography miss a significant number of actual tumors (NOT individual cells, but multi-cell active tumors).

If we cannot yet even see all the multicellular structure of an intact human being, how would we even being to implement any sort of cellular level scanning?
Good question.
My thinking was that, if we are able to study dna, nano-biology, etc, then we are obviously at the point where we can study cells on a very deep level.
So, perhaps by working to increase scanning resolution, we will be able to individuate the sick cells from the health ones (using computer technology).
This, together with a computer's capability to process millions of data per second, makes me conclude that, if a computer could "see" on a cellular level, it could individuate all cancerous cells.

I think it would be more precise than experimenting with pharmacology, which is often more harmful than helpful, not to mention the length of time to study a chemical's effect on the body before it can be put on the market.

We already have the technology to be able to take blood samples to study levels of cholesterol, etc. right from our own home. New devices are constantly being developed that give us improved knowledge of our bodies, and which can be run by a simple home computer.
It just seems like the "natural" direction of our technological progress.


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Old 05-30-2013, 07:17 AM   #25
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While we can study cellular DNA, we do that by harvesting the cells, lysing them to release the DNA, then analysing it. There is no scanning of intact cells in vivo in an intact human being.

We study cells "on a very deep level" using highly reductionist techniques, not working on cells in intact human beings. So it is not a matter of "increasing scanning resolution" but inventing entirely new scanning technologies - ones that would bear more resemblance to a star trek tricorder than any known current technology.

Taking a blood sample for cholesterol screening is a false analogy. That is simply a chemical assay that has been adapted to automation and that automation has become cost effective and pragmatic for local analysis. But it is more analogous to a using a home bp monitor than a cellular or sub-cellular level scanning technique. And the home cholesterol kits are still really quite crude relative to what a skilled clinical lab can assay from the same blood sample.

You are talking about some huge leaps in technology or even wholly new and unthought of technologies, not merely evolution of current technology.
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:40 AM   #26
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While we can study cellular DNA, we do that by harvesting the cells, lysing them to release the DNA, then analysing it. There is no scanning of intact cells in vivo in an intact human being.

We study cells "on a very deep level" using highly reductionist techniques, not working on cells in intact human beings. So it is not a matter of "increasing scanning resolution" but inventing entirely new scanning technologies - ones that would bear more resemblance to a star trek tricorder than any known current technology.

Taking a blood sample for cholesterol screening is a false analogy. That is simply a chemical assay that has been adapted to automation and that automation has become cost effective and pragmatic for local analysis. But it is more analogous to a using a home bp monitor than a cellular or sub-cellular level scanning technique. And the home cholesterol kits are still really quite crude relative to what a skilled clinical lab can assay from the same blood sample.

You are talking about some huge leaps in technology or even wholly new and unthought of technologies, not merely evolution of current technology.
Yes, I see your point. I guess we're not quite there yet.
Remember back about 30 years? Star Trek's communication devices seemed impossible to us back then.. But here we are now, communicating and sending data over thousands of miles in milliseconds on the Internet, using smartphones, etc.
A few months back, I saw a presentation of a new technology, where images could be transferred from a computer to another by merely touching both at the same time. The human body has become a new transfer method for data! Wow!

So I remain hopeful about computers to treat the body; just as we now have robots that can do surgery without the drastic interventions of yesterday. I think we'll get there, if not in our lifetime, sometime shortly thereafter. I just don't see why not.

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Old 05-30-2013, 07:51 AM   #27
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I'm not saying we won't get there either, just its an inestimable time away.

And remember, Star Trek also communicated over distances of many light years as easily, and as quickly as we do making a phone call across town, so these Star Trek analogies only go so far
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