Out in Front: Curing Cancer

October 1, 2014  - By
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As in, “It’s not like you’re curing cancer,” a refrain I hear sometimes when I get a bit over-inflated on GPS/GNSS and the wonders they can do in many fields of human endeavor. The intent of that remark is to remind me that on the one hand, there is technology. On the other hand, there is life, and there is death. Despite the leaps and bounds and the many alterations to life and its circumstances that technological advances have created, life — and death — still have the upper hand. And they will for the forseeable future. What’s that bumper-sticker saying? “Nature bats last.”

At the crux of the mystery of life and its endings is the nature of cancer, one of the leading causes of the end of life. Cancer is so deadly because cancer cells are immortal. They multiply endlessly, unlike normal cells that have a limit of about 30 times multiplying-and-dividing. Cancer cells take over the host body until they have crowded out enough normal cells to kill it. The cause of death in this case is . . . immortal life.

Some believe that the key to immortality, if not to perpetual youth, lies hidden inside the coding of cancer cells, and that in unlocking one mystery, we may succeed in unlocking two. But I’m treading on thin metaphysical ice here, so I’ll withdraw to the solid shore of what we do know, of what we know we know.

One of these known facts is that, yes, GNSS will not cure cancer. But it can be useful in the fight. See our special coverage, which appears in the October issue.

The first successful forays have come in the field of geographic information systems (GIS); as yet, the insights furnished by GIS are not down to the level of accuracy furnished by GPS/GNSS, but they will surely get there. And GPS itself has been employed to study the recovery rates and health issues of cancer patients, indicating further usefulness.

It’s all part of the fabric. The solutions lie at the heart of the mystery.

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