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6/2/2014
08:30 AM
Alison Diana
Alison Diana
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Technology Declares War On Cancer

Cancer will cause more than half a million deaths in the US this year. Here's how smart pills, IBM Watson, customized treatments, and even social media are helping patients fight for their health.
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Donated powerAndroid users can lend their smartphones' processing power to help University of Vienna researchers crunch through the Similarity Matrix of Proteins (SIMAP) database that computes similarities between various protein sequences, according to Quartz. This is a first step in discovering cures for cancer -- but demands a lot of processing power, researchers said. 

With the Power Sleep app for Android phones -- written by the university and Samsung Austria -- users plug in their phones at night, connect to WiFi, and donate the power. A built-in alarm knows that you are no longer using the device, developers said.

Don't have an Android smartphone? World Community Grid volunteers download a small research assignment to their computer or mobile phone when it has the capacity to do more work, such as when they are away or checking email. The device then feeds back the answers to WCG, which relays responses to individual researchers who analyze the data for patterns, draw insight, and share findings with other scientists. In February, one researcher unveiled a breakthrough in the search for a new treatment for childhood cancer, thanks in part to volunteers' support of the research.
 
Dr. Akira Nakagawara (right), principal investigator for Help Fight Childhood Cancer and president, Chiba Cancer Center, got help from World Community Grid volunteers who donated processing power to his research.

(Source: World Community Grid)

Donated power
Android users can lend their smartphones' processing power to help University of Vienna researchers crunch through the Similarity Matrix of Proteins (SIMAP) database that computes similarities between various protein sequences, according to Quartz. This is a first step in discovering cures for cancer -- but demands a lot of processing power, researchers said.

With the Power Sleep app for Android phones -- written by the university and Samsung Austria -- users plug in their phones at night, connect to WiFi, and donate the power. A built-in alarm knows that you are no longer using the device, developers said.

Don't have an Android smartphone? World Community Grid volunteers download a small research assignment to their computer or mobile phone when it has the capacity to do more work, such as when they are away or checking email. The device then feeds back the answers to WCG, which relays responses to individual researchers who analyze the data for patterns, draw insight, and share findings with other scientists. In February, one researcher unveiled a breakthrough in the search for a new treatment for childhood cancer, thanks in part to volunteers' support of the research.

Dr. Akira Nakagawara (right), principal investigator for Help Fight Childhood Cancer and president, Chiba Cancer Center, got help from World Community Grid volunteers who donated processing power to his research.

(Source: World Community Grid)

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Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
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6/5/2014 | 9:25:59 AM
Re: Interesting examples
Thanks, @Arsian, for the link. When i first began working on this report, I initially considered focusing on one particular type of cancer (for example, breast cancer or leukemia). The reason? There are so many exciting tech-based breakthroughs occurring around the world on specific cancers. However, I wanted to shine a spotlight on a broader array of work, hoping to spark some of the conversations we are now having. 

It truly is exciting to see how many great advances are being made at hospitals, universities, labs, and other facilities around the world -- and these are just the ones hitting the headlines. Who knows what is only in the early stages and cannot yet be discussed? It makes me hopeful that one day we will be able to prevent cancer or treat it with a series of much less invasive procedures.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/5/2014 | 9:22:58 AM
Re: Interesting examples
I agree with you, @lightmike2, that the design of these smart pills is incredible. When you think of the potential uses throughout various diseases, these smart pills could help millions of people around the world -- especially if the cost to produce them is reduced. I don't know how much they cost today, but you'd think they're already lower than alternatives and, if produced in enough bulk, they'll become even more affordable. It's an exciting technology, that's for sure! 

I would think competitors also are working on similar smart pills, a step that helps all of us!
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/5/2014 | 9:20:27 AM
Re: Interesting examples
We've seen smart pills used as cameras in other diseases. They are less invasive than sticking a thin camera down a patient's throat, where there's always a risk to the patient no matter how thin the camera and filament. Personally, I'd rather swallow a pill camera than the alternative, I think.
Arslan004
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Arslan004,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2014 | 6:43:22 PM
Re: Interesting examples
Its good to see the advancements in the treatment of cancer and i am very hopeful that one day this technology will give us a big breakthorough regarding cancer treatment. Find all about  cancer prevalence in United states by visiting 

10 Most Common Types Of Cancer In United States

lightmike2
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lightmike2,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2014 | 2:04:02 PM
Re: Interesting examples
I'm impressed they are using a sivler oxide battery in the PillCam, but not suprised.  It is not toxic like most batteries, so not much risk if it does come apart while traveling through the digestive system with all it's digestive properties trying to tear everything into its constituent parts.  .   
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 5:28:24 PM
Re: Interesting examples
I'm not eager to take the "smart pills." What do you think, readers?
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 4:14:45 PM
Re: Interesting examples
I think that these smart pills are a great idea. Anything non-invasive I am all for. I'm not all up on the latest in medical science, but I would think it is better for procedures to be less invasive.

There has to be less risk of something going wrong with this technology, and it has to be more comfortable for the patient. 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 4:13:58 PM
Creative Minds
It's fascinating to see how developers are using really sophisticated technologies like Watson as well as inexpensive tools like apps. One of my faves? The "Genes in Space" game (slide 7). I hope the scientists behind the game use their smarts to develop similar tools for other diseases and conditions or specific types of cancer. Talk about taking gameification to the next level!
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 4:10:57 PM
Re: Interesting examples
That is a really cool app that could save a lot of lives, given the number of people who don't get suspicious marks checked out early on. There's a company called InstaMD that's running an Indiegogo campaign right now for a headset that works with a stethescope. Patients record their own heartbeat or GI, for example, then share data with a doctor without having to leave their home. Of course, the big issue here is how on earth are physicians going to deal with this surge in data? As soon as healthcare organizations figure out that component, the sky's the limit -- and healthcare will dramatically improve!
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 11:22:56 AM
Interesting examples
The DermoScreen app is an intriguing example, Alison. Makes you wonder about the many other health screenings for which smartphones will someday serve as assistants.
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