April 7, 2013
The Computerized Cell
Recent medical research usually revolves around diagnosing and curing diseases. What would you say if there were a way to possibly do both, without actually taking a picture of your body? This sounds amazing because there has rarely been an integration of these two ideas, as we usually need to diagnose before we can treat patients. New research into computerized cells may change how we diagnose and treat certain diseases.
These cells are computerized in the sense that they act as logic gates, just like basic logic of computers. Computers are very simple in that they only send signals if certain conditions are met. To give you an example, in order for you to turn at a light, the light must be green or yellow. This would be a good example of an OR gate, where either condition can be true for some signal to be sent. Another example would be for a yellow light; the light must be yellow and no cars must be going through the intersection in which you want to turn through. Notice how both conditions must be met in order to go. This would be a good example of an AND gate, where multiple conditions must be met in order for a signal to be sent.
Now, what does this have to do with diagnosing and treating diseases, you may ask. Consider how many doctors diagnose patients. They check a person’s vitals and then look into what symptoms the patient is showing. Diseases have pattern-like behavior and are diagnosed by what symptoms the patient may have. Now, think of how a computer works. Doctors diagnose the exact same way as how computers make decisions. This means that a cell that acts like a computer will be able to go into a patient’s body and if there are certain conditions that are met, the cell will be able to tell the doctor whether the patient has certain conditions.
The interesting thing is since the cell already knows that the person has met the requirements for a disease, such as maybe the flu, the cell may also have the capability of attacking those cells that are infecting the patient’s body. These cells are able to turn on and off and if a person were to be able to contract a new strain of flu, the doctor would know.
For many viruses, it may take a few days to maybe weeks for a person to recover. This new technology could revolutionize medicine as it may take away the massive cost of using biomedical imaging, which is used to find cancer and other fatal diseases. These new cells would be able to detect certain proteins within other cells and be able to determine if these other cells are infectious. Although it is very new technology and is still in the tests phases, this idea of being able to turn cells on and off using simple logic could create a new wave of technology where we use microscopic technology to diagnose and treat diseases.
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