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New nanotech to catch cancer early

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    "You have cancer."
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    Sadly, about 40 percent of us will hear
    those three words within our lifetime,
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    and half will not survive.
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    This means that two out of five
    of your closest friends and relatives
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    will be diagnosed
    with some form of cancer,
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    and one will die.
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    Beyond the physical hardships,
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    roughly one-third
    of cancer survivors here in the US
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    will go into debt from treatment.
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    And they're at least two and a half times
    more likely to declare bankruptcy
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    than those without cancer.
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    This disease is pervasive.
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    It's emotionally draining,
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    and for many,
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    financially destructive.
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    But a cancer diagnosis
    doesn't have to be a death sentence.
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    Finding cancer early,
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    closer its genesis,
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    is one of the critical factors
    to improving treatment options,
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    reducing its emotional impact
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    and minimizing financial burdens.
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    Most importantly,
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    finding cancer early --
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    which is one of the primary
    aims of my research --
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    greatly enhances your odds of survival.
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    If we just look at the case
    of breast cancer for example,
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    we find that those who are diagnosed
    and treated at stage one
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    have a five-year survival rate
    of nearly 100 percent --
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    odds that decrease to just 22 percent
    if treated at stage four.
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    And similar trends are found
    for colorectal and ovarian cancer.
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    Now, we're all aware
    that an early diagnosis that is accurate
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    is critical for survival.
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    The problem is that many
    cancer diagnostic tools are invasive,
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    costly,
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    often inaccurate
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    and they can take an agonizing
    amount of time to get the results back.
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    Still worse, when it comes
    to some forms of cancer,
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    such as ovarian,
    liver or pancreatic cancer,
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    good screening methods simply don't exist,
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    meaning that often people wait
    until physical symptoms surface,
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    which are themselves already
    indicators of late-stage progression.
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    Like a tornado strike in an area
    without an early warning system,
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    there is no alarm to warn,
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    for the danger is already at your doorstep
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    when your odds of survival
    are greatly reduced.
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    Having the convenience and accessibility
    of regular screening options
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    that are affordable, noninvasive
    and could provide results much sooner,
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    would provide us with a formidable
    weapon in the fight against cancer.
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    An early warning would allow us
    to get out ahead of the disease
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    instead of merely
    following in its relentless wake.
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    And this is exactly what I've been doing.
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    For the past three years,
    I've been developing technologies
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    that could ultimately aid clinicians
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    with rapid, early-stage
    cancer diagnostics.
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    And I've been fueled
    by a deep scientific curiosity,
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    and a passion to change these statistics.
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    Last year however,
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    this fight became much more personal
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    when my wife was diagnosed
    with breast cancer.
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    It was an experience that added a strong
    and unexpected emotional dimension
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    to these efforts.
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    I know firsthand how life altering
    treatment can be,
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    and I'm keenly aware
    of the emotional havoc
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    that cancer can wreak on a family,
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    which in our case
    included our two young daughters.
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    Because we found it early
    during a routine mammogram,
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    we were able to focus
    primarily on treatment options
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    for the localized tumor,
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    reaffirming to me
    how important an early diagnosis is.
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    Unlike other forms of cancer,
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    mammograms do offer an early-stage
    screening option for breast cancer.
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    Still, not everyone has this done,
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    or they may develop cancer
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    before the middle age recommendation
    for having a mammogram.
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    So, there's still
    a lot of room for improvement,
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    even for cancers
    that do have screening options.
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    And of course, considerable benefits
    for those that don't.
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    A key challenge then
    for cancer researchers
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    is to develop methods
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    that make regular screening
    for many types of cancers
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    much more accessible.
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    Imagine a scenario
    where during your regular checkup,
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    your doctor can take
    a simple, noninvasive urine sample,
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    or other liquid biopsy,
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    and present you with the results
    before you even leave the doctor's office.
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    Such a technology could
    dramatically reduce the number of people
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    who slip through the net
    of an early-stage cancer diagnosis.
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    My research team
    of engineers and biochemists
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    is working on exactly this challenge.
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    We're working on ways to frequently
    activate an early-stage cancer alarm
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    by enabling regular screenings
    that would start when a person is healthy
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    so that action could be taken
    to stop cancer the moment it emerges,
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    and before it can progress
    beyond its infancy.
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    The silver bullet in this case
    are tiny vesicles,
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    little escape pods regularly shed
    by cells called exosomes.
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    Exosomes are important biomarkers
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    that provide an early-warning system
    for the development of cancer.
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    And because they're abundantly present
    in just about every bodily fluid,
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    including blood, urine and saliva,
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    they're extremely attractive
    for noninvasive liquid biopsies.
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    There's just one problem.
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    An automated system for rapidly sorting
    these important biomarkers
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    is not currently available.
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    We've created a technology
    that we call nano-DLD
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    that is capable of precisely this:
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    automated exosome isolation
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    to aid rapid cancer diagnostics.
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    Exosomes are the newest
    early-warning weapon, if you will,
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    to emerge on the liquid biopsy front.
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    And they're really, really small.
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    They measure just 30 to 150
    nanometers in diameter.
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    This is so tiny
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    that you could fit about a million
    of them into a single red blood cell.
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    That's roughly the difference
    between a golf ball
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    and a fine grain piece of sand.
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    Once thought to be little bins
    for unwanted cellular waste,
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    it has been found
    that cells actually communicate
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    by producing and absorbing these exosomes
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    which contain surface receptors,
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    proteins and other genetic material
    collected from their cell of origin.
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    When absorbed by a neighboring cell,
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    exosomes release their contents
    into the receiving cell,
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    and can set in motion
    fundamental changes in gene expression --
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    some good --
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    and this is where cancer comes in --
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    some bad.
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    Because they are clothed
    in the material of the mother cell,
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    and contain a sample of its environment,
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    they provide a genetic snapshot
    of that cell's health and its origin.
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    All of these qualities
    make exosomes invaluable messengers
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    that potentially allow physicians
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    to eavesdrop on your health
    at the cellular level.
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    To catch cancer early, however,
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    you have to frequently
    intercept these messages
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    to determine when cancer-causing
    troublemakers within your body
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    decide to start staging a coup,
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    which is why regular
    screening is so critical
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    and why we're developing
    technologies to make this possible.
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    While the first exosome-based diagnostics
    emerged on the market just this year,
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    they are not yet part
    of mainstream healthcare options.
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    In addition to their recent emergence,
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    another factor that's limiting
    their widespread adoption
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    is that currently, no automated
    exosome isolation system exists
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    to make regular screening
    economically accessible.
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    The current gold standard
    for exosome isolation
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    includes ultracentrifugation,
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    a process requiring
    expensive laboratory equipment,
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    a trained lab tech
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    and about 30 hours of time
    to process a sample.
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    We've come up with a different approach
    for achieving automated exosome isolation
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    from a sample such as urine.
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    We use a chip-based, continuous flow
    separation technique
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    called deterministic lateral displacement,
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    and we have done with it
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    what the semiconductor industry has done
    so successfully for the past 50 years.
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    We shrunk the dimensions
    of this technology
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    from the micron scale
    to the true nanoscale.
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    So how does it work?
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    In a nutshell,
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    a set of tiny pillars
    separated by nanoscopic gaps
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    are arranged in such a way
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    that the system divides
    the fluid into streamlines,
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    with the larger cancer-related
    nanoparticles being separated
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    through a process of redirection
    from the smaller, healthier ones,
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    which can in contrast
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    move around the pillars
    in a zigzag-type motion
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    in the direction of fluid flow.
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    The net result is a complete separation
    of these two particle populations.
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    You can visualize this separation process
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    similar to traffic on a highway
    that separates into two roads,
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    with one road going into
    a low-clearance tunnel under a mountain,
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    and the other road going around it.
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    Here, smaller cars
    can go through the tunnel
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    while larger trucks,
    carrying potentially hazardous material,
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    are forced to take the detour route.
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    Traffic is effectively separated
    by size and contents
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    without impeding its flow.
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    And this is exactly how our system works
    on a much, much smaller scale.
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    The idea here is that
    the separation process for screening
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    could be as simple as processing
    a sample of urine, blood or saliva,
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    which is a near-term possibility
    within the next few years.
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    Ultimately, it could be used
    to isolate and detect target exosomes
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    associated with
    a particular type of cancer,
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    sensing and reporting
    their presence within minutes.
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    This would make rapid diagnostics
    virtually painless.
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    Broadly speaking,
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    the ability to separate
    and enrich biomarkers
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    with nanoscale precision
    in an automated way,
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    opens the door to better understanding
    diseases such as cancer,
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    with applications ranging
    from sample preparation to diagnostics,
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    and from drug resistance
    monitoring to therapeutics.
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    Even before my wife's bout with cancer,
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    it was a dream of mine to facilitate
    the automation of this process --
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    to make regular screening more accessible,
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    similar to the way Henry Ford
    made the automobile accessible
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    to the general population
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    through development of the assembly line.
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    Automation is the key to accessibility.
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    And in the spirit of the Hoover dream,
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    "a chicken in every pot
    and a car in every garage,"
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    we're developing a technology
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    that could ultimately place
    an early-warning cancer detection system
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    in every home.
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    This would allow
    every man, woman and child
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    the opportunity to be regularly tested
    while they're still healthy,
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    catching cancer when it first emerges.
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    It is my hope and dream
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    to help people around the world
    avoid the high costs --
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    physical, financial and emotional --
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    faced by today's cancer patients ...
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    hardships that I'm well acquainted with.
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    I'm also happy to report that because
    we caught my wife's cancer early,
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    her treatment was successful,
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    and she is now, thankfully, cancer-free.
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    (Applause)
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    It is an outcome that I would like to see
    for everyone with a cancer diagnosis.
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    With the work that my team
    has already done
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    on separation of nanoscale biomarkers
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    for rapid, early-stage cancer diagnostics,
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    I am optimistic
    that within the next decade,
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    this type of technology will be available,
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    helping protect our friends,
    our family and future generations.
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    Even if we are so unlucky
    as to be diagnosed with cancer,
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    that early-stage alarm
    will provide a strong beacon of hope.
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    Thank you.
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    (Applause)
Titel:
New nanotech to catch cancer early
Sprecher:
Joshua Smith
Beschreibung:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
closed TED
Projekt:
TEDTalks
Duration:
12:26

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