Eat your spinach. Go exercise. Take good care of yourself.
We’ve all heard them before and it all seems to be good advice—if you actually do it. But science and technology are adding another important “spin” to the discussion (yes, I did use the word spin). Grail is a company that might be shifting the domain of prevention away from the bowls of spinach and the gym to the value of early, very early detection. At ASCO this past weekend, data suggest that Grail could identify lung cancers. The tests seem to work better in later stage cancers (more circulating markers) but it’s the hope of the company to identify cancer at a very stage. There also seems to be a low incidence of false positives, which can be an almost equally important finding. Forbes’ Matthew Herper shares his recent insights and concerns here.
So, let’s do one of Einstein’s thought experiments moving from physics to cancer. Imagine if we could find the very first cancer cell in a body. Yes, impossible and clinically ill-informed, but lets just let the thought experiment play out. If we can detect and destroy that illusive and invasive cell, we end up sharing a border with something—prevention. In other words, the path to prevention may be best accomplished by technological intervention that can impact disease at stage zero.
The path to prevention may be technology’s ultimate achievement in medicine and health.
It’s my assertion that advances in health technology are moving in this direction. From nanoparticles that circulate throughout our bodies to improvements in imaging technology, and even regenerative medicine, we now are moving toward the power of techno-mediated prevention that make that old adage “apple a day” seem a little antiquated. And perhaps, we might even move from “apple” to “stem cell” as the new axiom of prevention.
So, is disease becoming yesterday’s concern? Certainly not. But the emergence of innovations like early disease detection, stem cell-mediated organ repair and regeneration are establishing a new and yet “old fashioned” perspective that prevention is the best medicine. It this case, it’s coming in the form of technology.
Follow me @JohnNosta for a more informed and healthy future.