Things are looking up for cancer patients — from gene editing to the humble avocado, various forms of treatment are manifesting all over the world. Now, virtual reality systems are making it easier for doctors to treat cancerous tumors.
Once wearing the Oculus VR headset, the wearer can clearly see how the drug combats certain DNA strands inside the cell of a cancerous growth.
The wearer can then look around 360 degrees inside the tumor to see how the drug attaches itself to DNA strands to help dismantle the cancer.
The Oculus VR can eliminate the need of replica training, which is less practical and more expensive. It also provides users with feedback, allowing surgeons to perform more accurately.
“It is helpful in engaging the brain through interacting with a personalized animation someone is familiar with, so it feels real.”
I suppose this means virtual reality can escape its video game bubble and transition into the education industry. After all, there is always value in new technology.
Yet to conjure up a cure for cancer, researchers are relying mainly on radiation therapy and implant technology to treat patients. Dietitians are even promoting unusual superfoods such as avocados, whose husks can treat harmful diseases. However, a breakthrough by Moderna may soon see individualized vaccines on the market.
With the right combination of letters, Moderna says it can hijack a cell’s protein-making mechanisms to create a drug within the body. If it works, mRNA could have many applications: The company also has programs for infectious diseases, cardiovascular disorders and rare diseases.
Testing the vaccine on a single patient, the research has a lot to prove. Moderna’s current tester vial is a result of meticulous work arranging DNA based on target proteins. While it seems promising, there are still a lot of risks to consider.
“The tumor has all kinds of tricks to fight back,” said Greg Lizee, an associate professor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center who specializes in melanoma. “Cancers can reduce targets on the surface or secrete nasty stuff that’s toxic for the immune system.”
To play it safe, Moderna is experimenting with patients who are already clear of tumors. Though the stakes are high, the research may be worth (literally) a shot.
While sketch artists are vital in the world of crime-busting, witnesses may not always be the most accurate. After all, we don’t all have the best memory, especially in times of trauma. With this new technology, we may not be needing witnesses in the sketch room any longer. DNA phenotyping can determine a person’s characteristics, thus producing a fairly precise depiction of a suspect.
DNA phenotyping can fill in some physical traits. “Eye color, hair color, and skin color are all doable,”
Because the technology is still fairly new, those who use it can’t say it’s 100% reliable.
“Our knowledge about inherited diseases is currently more advanced than on how we look,”
While scientists have identified new genes for traits like hair texture, ear shape, hair loss, and height, translating these discoveries into reliable forensic tools remains a challenge.
Additionally, DNA cannot account for environmental factors that affect our appearance such as drinking or smoking. While phenotyping is not an exact science, it can at least provide investigators with strong resemblances. After all, a lead is better than nothing!