Thursday, August 16, 2018

Origami and Crafting Cancer Solutions

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Health
Medicine
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

A consideration in cancer therapy is the placement of the right drug: right drug; right place. Cancers in the abdominal cavity are a case point one of which is advanced ovarian cancer.

The typical regimen in treating this cancer is to pump chemotherapy drugs into the abdominal cavity. This requires multiple-sessions and involves considerable pain.

Katerina Mantazavinov, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, wondered about the possibility of developing a long-term deployable structure. After considering a spaghetti-like model, she turned to origami to help her develop folded structures that could be inserted through a small-tube. Once inside the abdominal cavity the structure would unfold and then deliver the drug evenly over time. She also wanted this to use a minimally invasive procedure.

Origami provides an answer to turning something large into something small. The origami models are used to serve as templates for 3-D printing of molds into which silicone is injected. This material is bio-compatible.

Ms. Mantazavinov is the feature of a short film in which she describes her work. There are a couple of cutaways in the film to Michael Cima, her advisor which provide some wonderful insights into the relationship between a talented mentor and a talented student. It is clear that he sees his task of handing-over the reins of this project to her and that she also has a successful career while being minimally invasive in the process. This is easy to say and sometimes hard to do. This story is also about the growing relationship between engineering and biomedicine.


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