We may not be driving flying cars to work yet, but that doesn't mean we don't have a lot to be excited about from technology advances related to the space age. Instead of zipping past traffic jams, International Space Station-derived robotic capabilities are giving us a fast pass to life-saving surgical techniques with cancer-fighting finesse.
According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 232,340 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the end of 2013 alone. From that, about 39,620 women and 410 men will not survive.
The goal for a team of collaborative researchers with the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation (CSii) in Canada is to reduce those numbers significantly. They are scheduled to enter an advanced platform into clinical trials this fall for use in the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
The main player besides the medical staff is a robot. But not just any robot. This one's technology was designed for use aboard the International Space Station by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Researchers created the Image-Guided Autonomous Robot (IGAR) from a long line of computerized heavy lifters and maintenance performers for the space shuttle and space station: CSA's Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre. In dealing with breast cancer, IGAR is expected to provide increased access, precision and dexterity, resulting in highly accurate and minimally invasive procedures.
"The IGAR platform moves the use of robotics in surgery to a new dimension, allowing the robot to act in an automated fashion after programming by a physician," said Dr. Mehran Anvari, chief executive officer and scientific director at CSii. "This technology has been practiced in manufacturing and in space, but is new to medicine."
IGAR is designed to work in combination with an MRI scanner, which is highly sensitive to early detection of suspicious b
|Contact: Jessica Eagan|
NASA/Johnson Space Center