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Cure for cancer by 3D laser engraving

Curing cancer with 3D laser engraving
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I don't have a medical background and I don't know if it is possible to freeze a living body and then defreezing and re-animating it. At least, it was possible in some science-fiction films and could be in the future.

As it is known, cancer is caused by body cells that misbehave for some reason. And the standart procedure for curing cancer is exposing those cells to chemicals or radiation (radiotherapy) But the problem is, radiation does not distinguish between good cells and bad cells and kills them all in the area. Thats why, it usually cannot be applied in enough dose. What if we could burn cells with precise laser instead of radiation?

Here's my idea:

- Freeze the patient so his/her body is rock solid and motionless

- Take an MR scan or something similar of the body to acquire an internal 3D image in very high resolution.

- Using some kind of computerized image-recognition technique, pinpoint the cells with cancer and extract their exact coordinates.

- Design a machine which is similar to the 3D Sculpture Engraving machines. (You know, the 3D plotters that carve sculptures in glass with laser like this one: (see link) )

I know, glass is transparent and the body is not. But for some wavelengths, the body is transparent too. (or am I just making this up? :)

- Using that 3d engraving laser plotter and the coordinate data of the bad cells, scan the body and burn necessary points with precision. This may take a long time but the body is frozen remember? We have time.

- Defreeze the body and re-animate the patient.

anyman, Jun 23 2008

3d Engraved Sculpture http://www.livingde...s/guardianangel.jpg
3d Engraved Sculpture [anyman, Jun 23 2008]

[link]






       Hi, [anyman], welcome to the Halfbakery. Your idea doesn't fly, I'm afraid.   

       //Freeze the patient so his/her body is rock solid and motionless//   

       This doesn't work on the human scale. If the freezing and thawing was instantaneous then it *might* work. Sadly it isn't, so when the body is too cold it stops working at some point before everything goes solid.   

       //- Take an MR scan or something similar of the body to acquire an internal 3D image in very high resolution.   

       - Using some kind of computerized image-recognition technique, pinpoint the cells with cancer and extract their exact coordinates.//   

       We pretty much do this already.   

       //I know, glass is transparent and the body is not. But for some wavelengths, the body is transparent too. (or am I just making this up? :)//   

       I'm afraid that the cancer cells are made up of the same stuff as the rest of the body - at best you have to focus your efforts on the tumour and try to minimise effects on the rest of the body.   

       In any case, we do this already with radiotherapy. Blast the body with high-power x-rays from various points of trajectory.   

       In summary - the freezing won't work and the laser stuff isn't really any different from radiotherapy.
Jinbish, Jun 23 2008
  

       what [Jinbish] said.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2008
  

       //cancer is caused by body cells that misbehave for some reason//   

       Cancer cells are infact 'normal' cells, differing only in the fact that their mitochondria have lost (through mutation or other damage) the ability to self-kill. You therefore get multiplying cells that essentially don't know when to die and make way for new ones.   

       As [Jinbish] said, current technology finds it difficult to completely distinguish 'bad' cells from 'good' cells.   

       However, there are currently trials being conducted with the drug, Di-chloroacetate, which essentially turns back on the cells 'self-kill' function, allowing them to die.   

       The world waits with baited breath. :)
kuupuuluu, Jun 23 2008
  

       Sp. bated
Texticle, Jun 23 2008
  

       I think kupu is hoping his breath catches something.   

       [anyman], what you propose really is very similar to modern radiation treatment of cancer. Instead of freezing the body, form fitting molds immobilize the area to be treated. Internal 3D images are obtained uising MRI, exactly as you propose. Wavelengths of radiation are chosen which can penetrate the body to the degree desired.   

       Your proposition would not be too interesting if you were a medical student and so probably knew at least a little about radiation oncology. However the fact that you in good faith propose freezing someone solid suggests that you are not. This to me means that you are interested but without a medical background, and have put the rest of your scheme together from first prinicples. It is reasonable and hangs together well.   

       No-one makes money reinventing the wheel, but it is still inventing the wheel, and from that standpoint pretty cool. Welcome to the HB.
bungston, Jun 23 2008
  

       I wonder this this could be done exactly as anyman proposes, but with freezable animals - maybe frogs? The wavelength would be tricky. Maybe with zebrafish - they are clear.
bungston, Jun 23 2008
  

       //Cancer cells are infact 'normal' cells, differing only in the fact that their mitochondria have lost (through mutation or other damage) the ability to self-kill.//   

       Uh, no.   

       Cancer cells have acquired mutations in their nuclear (non-mitochondrial) genomes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2008
  

       Thank you all for the responses, halfbakery is a cool site :) Excuse my ignorance about radiotherapy, I have very basic idea about it and I know it works the same way as I suggested. As I said, I don't have a medical background, just a computer guy :)   

       But what I wondered was: why not use something more precise than x-rays, something more focusable and with much less diversion, like a laser. Instead of working in tumor scale, why not work in cell scale? Because radiotherapy seems to me like trying to sign your name on an A4 paper with a brush for painting walls.   

       I thought the reason was the inability to render a living body motionless (even the slightest movement in micrometer scale would ruin it all) That's why the freezing thing... And it would take a very long time maybe, maybe impossible to do manually but, we got very fast computer slaves don't we?   

       If we can dig holes in DVD surfaces in nanometer precision, and if we can dig holes in 3D with coincided multiple lasers like the ones on that sculpture. Why can't we dig little holes in a frozen man :)   

       By the way, bungston are u serious about "freezable animals"? Can frogs be freezed? Why can't we?   

       Not today I know... before I die of smoking would be early enough :P
anyman, Jun 24 2008
  

       //Can frogs be freezed? Why can't we? // Because we haven't evolved to be frozen.
coprocephalous, Jun 24 2008
  

       [bungston] is serious. The problem, as I alluded to, is size.   

       If you dump a fly into liquid nitrogen, it will freeze through very, very quickly. If you dump a human into liquid nitrogen it will freeze more slowly (as far as I know!?).   

       Now consider the even more difficult bit: thawing. It takes a full day to thaw out a shank of lamb... How can we defrost a human!? We'd have to do it as quickly as our superfast freezing or the brain cells will start to require oxygen rich blood long before the blood has thawed out.
Jinbish, Jun 24 2008
  

       //The problem, as I alluded to, is size.// So we need something cooler than liquid nitrogen...   

       // We'd have to do it as quickly as our superfast freezing or the brain cells will start to require oxygen rich blood long before the blood has thawed out.//   

       Well.. I'd defrost the blood first, then the heart, then at last the brain maybe, in order of dependency. You know, I got the magic laser wand :)   

       Ok ok you don't need to say, it's not that easy I know...
anyman, Jun 24 2008
  

       As far as ideas go, it is not so good. But that last line:   

       //Defreeze the body and re-animate the patient.// has a certain tagline ring to it.
4whom, Jun 24 2008
  

       //So we need something cooler than liquid nitrogen..// No, that doesn't solve the problem. The main problem is that, even if you keep the skin at absolute zero, the core will take a long time to freeze - the body is not a very good conductor of heat. The slow freezing causes two problems.   

       First, you have a person who is frozen solid on the outside but still runny in the middle; this is not good in terms of circulation, and the middle bits will go anoxic long before they freeze.   

       Second, the slow freezing of middle bits means that ice crystals grow inside the cells, causing all kinds of damage. It would actually be far less damaging, overall, to dice the person into 1cm cubes and freeze each of these - the net damage would be far less.   

       However, I don't think freezing is needed. If you can image in realtime, then your "laser" should be able to track the tumour as the body moves. The main problems are (a) imaging finely enough (b) distinguishing cancerous cells [cancerous tissue isn't too difficult, but individual cells are trickier to tell from their normal counterparts] and (c) ablating the target cells accurately. Problem (c) is probably soluble; it's already solved by advanced radiotherapy, which converges several sub-lethal beams on a target, as outlined above.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 24 2008
  

       // to dice the person into 1cm cubes and freeze each of these - the net damage would be far less.//   

       Great idea! Why didn't I think of this before?
anyman, Jun 24 2008
  

       Well, put it this way. If you freeze a whole person, you effectively mush every cell in their body which is more than a few millimetres from the skin. If you dice them first, then most of the cells in each cube will be viable, and you only have to worry about the relatively few cells damaged by the dicing. Use a sharp knife, though.   

       If you're not comfortable with the whole dicing operation, you could probably get away with slicing. You just need a good bacon slicer which isn't too bothered by bones and suchlike. Slice your person into rashers about 1cm thick, and transfer each slice directly to liquid nitrogen. Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 24 2008
  
      
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