Yesterday, Feb. 4, marked World Cancer Day, a day when people across the globe unite to take a stand against a disease that affects us all. Every year approximately 8 million people die from cancer worldwide. Cancer always makes me think of my late Mom (stomach cancer) and a sadly growing number of friends who are directly and indirectly affected by this global burden.
Taking place under the tagline “Not beyond us”, World Cancer Day 2015 took a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting that many things can be done on all levels to tackle the disease.
Solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer, and I’m hopeful technological advancements in the years to come will change the trajectory of premature deaths from cancer worldwide. Investing in prevention and detection of cancer is cheaper than dealing with the consequences. Today, I’d like to put a spotlight on two tech initiatives that are driving early cancer detection.
The first one is Miroculus, a simple, non-invasive open-source test to check dozens of cancer from a blood drop through an affordable device. So far, the device has been able to accurately pinpoint small molecules that act as a type of biological warning sign for pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and more.
The second one falls under Google X, with the development of nanoparticle ingestible sensors that would seek out cancer cells in the bloodstream and report back to a smart wristband.
“Nanoparticles are the smallest engineered particles, the smallest engineered machines or things that you can make.” – Andrew Conrad, Head of Google’s Life Sciences department
Google has hired more than 100 people to work on the project, and has even used synthetic skin to develop the technology. The project might be only a few years away from viability.
I’m hopeful that those initiatives will make us live longer by changing the practice of medicine to be primarily preventative rather than reactive. I’m hopeful that technology will help us get rid of the diseases that kill us earlier. I’m hopeful that cancer is not beyond us.