[Marxism] Pink Ribbons Inc.; Living Downstream; The Education of Dee Dee Ricks

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jun 2 19:20:31 MDT 2012

On 6/2/12 8:57 PM, Rod Holt wrote:
> I must communicate the most exciting —to me— scientific development
> in years: the invention of instruments that can isolate and examine
> DNA, etc. of single cells! This should make it possible to pin down
> exactly what happens when and how a cell becomes cancerous. That
> means that the interaction of chemicals, radiation and natural
> phenomenon and specific human cells can be examined not as
> statistical aggregates of millions of cells where a crucial change is
> lost lost amongst the crowd, but as a specific cause-effect event.

On a related note:

Using Robots for Less Invasive Surgery

A collaboration between Columbia Professors Peter Allen (Computer 
Science, Columbia Engineering), Nabil Simaan (formerly Mechanical 
Engineering at Columbia, now at Vanderbilt) and Dennis Fowler (Surgery, 
Columbia University Medical Center) has resulted in an innovative new 
approach to minimally invasive surgery. They have developed a novel 
robotic platform for minimally invasive single-port surgery—Insertable 
Robotic Effector Platform (IREP)—that they say is the world’s smallest 
in required diameter (∅15 mm) that can enter the body while enabling 
dual-arm-dexterous operation, 3-D visualization, and automated 
instrument tracking. It was recently licensed to Titan Medical, Inc.

Patients prefer minimally invasive surgery because it results in smaller 
scars, less pain, and a quicker recovery.  However, minimally invasive 
surgery techniques such as laparoscopy often require multiple incisions 
and a large team of personnel. As a result of reducing the size and 
scope of the instruments, the difficulty of minimally invasive 
procedures has increased significantly, often resulting in increased 
operation time and cost. The techniques are simply too complex and too 
costly for all surgeons and all hospitals to be able to provide them.

“Our IREP system represents an exciting new development in robotic 
surgery,” says Allen. “Instead of multi-million-dollar large robotic 
systems, this is a low-cost, minimally invasive, compact system that 
includes state-of-the-art robotic arms and surgical instrumentation with 
3-D stereo-vision imaging and a suite of intelligent software for 
control and visualization to assist the surgeon.”

The IREP consists of a collapsible configuration for insertion into 
natural orifices or through a small incision, a dual arm configuration 
with seven degrees of freedom per arm, and a binocular camera for 3-D 
visualization. The unique 3-D vision system, which includes two 
controllable miniature cameras inside the body, can be used to 
automatically track anatomical structures and surgical tools during a 
procedure, providing real-time in-vivo viewing for the surgeon. Using 
stereo reconstruction methods, surgeons can also model the patient’s 
internal anatomy and register it with pre-operative CT, Ultrasound, or 
MRI scans.

The IREP’S unique mechanical architecture includes snake-like continuum 
robots with push-pull actuation, parallel linkages, and passively 
flexible actuation stems. It has also been designed as a platform for 
multi-modal use including energy and drug delivery and suction. This is 
achieved through the use of tubular access channels within each surgical 

“In contrast to existing systems, which are too large to be mounted on 
the surgical bed, this device is so small that it can be easily 
attached, allowing for quick orientation of the patient during surgery,” 
says Fowler. “We anticipate that robots in the future can greatly 
improve the care of surgical patients, and we are very excited about the 
partnership with Titan. By reducing the invasiveness of surgery, we will 
improve the outcome of surgery for patients, for surgeons, and for 

This research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, 
through the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, 
grant #R21EB00777

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