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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 breast 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:

An accurate, early diagnosis is one of the most critical factors for surviving cancer, says researcher Joshua Smith, but many diagnostic tools available today are costly, invasive, inaccurate and slow. Smith is developing an early-stage "cancer alarm" that scans for traces of disease in the form of special biomarkers called exosomes. In this forward-thinking talk, he shares how this new nanobiotechnology could revolutionize how we detect cancer and, ultimately, save lives.

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

Untertitel in English

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