Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Laboratories Seek New Ways to Take a Look Inside

Christian Welch                                                                                    
Core Biology 1 Honors/ C Block, Ms. Davies

Current Event Report: Laboratories seek new ways to take a look inside

Markoff, John. “Laboratories Seek New Ways to Take a Look Inside.”  The New York Times, published October 8,2012

            This article by John Markoff is about the new technologies in modern science and how it affects our knowledge of medicine today. The article starts off talking about Christopher Contag, a microbiologist who works at Stanford. He had just created something called a virtual pathologist. This device travels down the esophagus and stomach to help probe for cancer. The instrument makes the pathologist life easier by letting doctors see three dimensions below the skins surface so the pathologists don’t have to examine the tissue samples and can make a faster on the spot decision for their patients.  This scientific tool is also able to view internal organs by using different optical and acoustical techniques to virtually “punch holes” in hundreds of cells deep within the human body, while comparing the data to a healthy body to find abnormalities. Many doctors are now using magnetic imaging to help solve   diagnosis quickly and inexpensively. Contags is tying to develop biomarkers that are injected to the body and directly attach on to lesions. Then the doctors could tell which cell are health or not. Different technology all over is enhancing our ability to help the sick. Matthew Putman from Columbia medical center has created a imaging software that will speed up the process to analyze cells.  In a project that doctors observe cells they could only check one cell a day. However the software alone can observe and check 12 cell samples in just 15 minutes. This software fortunately will not put pathologists out of work but it will save money on time spent analyzing cells. There are many other discoveries in the medical world, which can improve science. Dr.Contag had developed a ultrasound that is sent through the esophagus and creates a clear picture of the heart in the ribcage based off of the vibrations. This process is called 3D- TEE, which can often provide 3D videos of beating hearts when used with. The final discovery is called magnetic particle imaging or MPI for short. The MPI injects a metal tracer and helps doctors find tumors. This machine is extremely helpful for surgeons because it uses technology from CT and PET scans to help find the cause of the sickness quicker and less painfully. Overall these inventions and ideas will be the future of modern medicine and they will help our lives become easer and stop illnesses before they spread.
            All of these inventions can adjust the futures life span by finding illnesses quicker. This will help society because it will save time spent on searching for the problem and figuring out what it might be. Although these machines aren’t perfected yet they will have a huge influence in every hospital. Patients can now have the best care possible and they don’t have to wait around wondering what is wrong with them. Also people can take care of their life threatening disease before it kills them. These devices are said to be so fast that “The patient can walk out of the hospital immediately after being treated,” said Bert van Meurs, senior vice president and general manager of Philips’ Interventional X-Ray group. With all of the new technology people can be aware of their tumors and other problems and treat it immediately. I chose this article because I wanted to know what the new era of medical technology would be. I wanted to learn about how we can help the human body faster and more effectively.
            I enjoyed this article a lot however it had too many ideas. I would have liked it more if The New York Times split the articles content in half. The article would have been better if it talked more about just Dr. Contag and shared about just his ideas. With all of the different inventions it was very complicated and made me curious about the first one and I wanted to learn more about the details on his new invention.


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  2. Christian created a very well written analysis on the article he chose. There are many things he did well, but the most impressive is his summary. He is able to write his summary in such a way to convey a large amount of information while still talking about the new technology’s real purpose: to make a more effective and cheaper way of observing the human body. Along with this, Christian tells the complex processes of the way the 3D-TEE is able to look into the body. There is a very scientific and sometimes confusing way that it works, but Christian was able to explain it in an easy and simple way. Christian was also able to connect the 3D-TEE’s new and effective way to the future of medicine and how it will help the next generation of disease and cancer treatment be more successful and easier.
    The article itself is also very interesting and surprising. I was very surprised that this has not been thought of before. We have used cameras through the esophagus and trachea to see into the body, but what Dr. Contag has done was the same thing, but with an X-ray like device. It is something so simple, but has never been thought of before. Another intriguing thought is that this new process can do what used to take days in only a second, and as effectively too. This is a very important aspect in cases when quick diagnosis and treatment is needed. It can also save the patient the agony of waiting for the results of a test. This new technology will be able to revolutionize both medicine and anatomical science.
    I think Christian did a great job on finding such an interesting article to share. It is hard to criticize, but if I had to, I would say Christian could have compared the new process to the old processes, so that you can really see how revolutionary this is.