About Robots and Mice
It’s isn’t easy to call something a true medical breakthrough, but the hope often arises, so I’ll start from afar and not from medicine.
THE MACHINE THAT PLAYS ALONG WITH ITSELF
Everyone knows that the AlphaGo program has beaten the world’s best Go player, and everyone knows that Go is one of the most complicated and intellectual games in the world. It’s almost 5000 years old and requires tactical thinking, strategic vision, logic, and capabilities beyond logic – intuition and insight. And suddenly this machine figured out all these great, mysterious secrets and mopped the floor with a man.
But not everyone knows that the game didn’t end there. The new version, after 3 days of self-study, has beaten the previous version.
That’s not even the point, though – it’s that the new version taught itself without human player analysis. Can you wrap your head around that? The machine can. The algorithm itself produces the best strategy, having played itself a million times.
Therefore, the program is no longer bound by the limits of human knowledge.
So what does this have to do with medicine? The project manager answered this question. “Soon, self-teaching machines will be able to come up with a better treatment formula within a couple of days, the creation of which takes doctors decades.”
MAN DIDN’T ORIGINATE FROM MICE?
Thousands of studies in the field of oncology are carried out on mice, but optimism regarding its success is exaggerated. In these experiments, a patient’s tumor cells are taken, transplanted into the mice, and given different treatments. Metaresearch (a study of these studies) has shown that the transplant itself changes the genome of the mice. Simply put, the mice undergo changes that do not take place in humans. Thus, a treatment tested on mice will not necessarily work on humans.
But this doesn’t mean that the mice will be left in peace. In other study, it was shown that reaction to treatment in mice and human patients still coincides at 87%. The remaining 13% isn’t so small, though, especially for those who find themselves a part of it.
AND MORE ABOUT ROBOTS
The FDA approved use of the robot-surgeon Senhance. Isaac Asimov would have hardly called it a robot, since Senhance won’t perform an operation without a live surgeon. At first glance, it’s nothing special. For example, its predecessor DaVinci has been in use since 2000. This new robot is able to track the direction of the doctor’s sight, reach the most difficult organs, and operate with high accuracy. Moreover, the operations are minimally invasive with less scarring, less pain, and recovery occurs faster than usual.
Senhance knows how to make incisions, tie up vessels, and sew it back up. Following the direction of the doctor’s view, the robot introduces corrections into the movement of the manipulators. In that case, the doctor should monitor his/her own vision and check in with the ophthalmologist more often.
FOR WHOM IS THE SUN DANGEROUS?
People are walking down the street on a sunny day – one of them gets a harmless tan, and the other is on their way to melanoma. In the US, melanoma affects around 50,000 people per year. Birthmarks can play a role in this, but the cause often remains unknown.
Scientists have discovered that skin cancer develops from the stem cells of melanocytes, provided that they have accumulated enough mutations and are irradiated with ultraviolet light.
What happens normally? The sun acts on melanocytes and they produce melanin, which protects the skin from the dangerous parts of radiation. But if mutations have accumulated in the cells, then a tumor can arise.
What’s more is that these mutations themselves can become dangerous when they fall under ultraviolet radiation.
Fortunately, scientists did not stop there, and they’re developing a genetic method to counteract this form of cancer. For now, mice are suffering all the same, but let’s hope the method falls within that 87%, or even better 100%.
JOKE OF THE DAY
A cruise ship is sinking in the middle of the Atlantic. The captain is in a panic, but he’s informed that among the passengers there’s a rabbi that performs miracles. He’s urgently lead to the rabbi, whom he asks,
“Rabbi, what can I do?”
“Do you have internet?”
“Then sell the ship!”