“Success comes from knowing what you don’t know, more than coming from what you do know.”Ray Dalio
Knowledge Gaps Regarding Health Status (in general)
More than seventy percent of deaths in America are due to one of only ten causes(1). To measure the total health status of an individual, one must consider a multitude of factors, but these leading causes of death require specific focus. It is vital to first recognize major knowledge gaps in screening and diagnosis procedures and then uncover knowledge gaps in cures and treatments.
Cardiovascular heart disease is the largest killer in America(1). Sadly, many Americans die suddenly of “silent heart attacks” because they were never diagnosed(2). Testing does exist, including carotid ultrasounds, slice coronary CT scans, angiograms, and more(3). Yet, not all individuals are screened because of knowledge gaps in how to create affordable testing or incentives for doctors to perform testing(4). There are also knowledge gaps regarding how to make some of these tests less invasive. Once CHD is diagnosed, there are a great many treatments that can vastly improve the effects of CHD, especially medications(5). But, the final knowledge gap lays in the fact that there is currently no true cure.
Perhaps the most publicized killer in society today is cancer. The greatest challenge in detecting and curing cancer is that cancer is actually hundreds of different diseases, anywhere in the body(6). There are various modes of detection, from physical exams to blood tests. However, it can be difficult to detect early, as there are often no immediate symptoms. Although there are three primary forms of treatment: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, none guarantee recovery and every subtype of cancer requires a different kind of treatment. While new innovations like Genomic tumor assessment can result in a more personalized approach to cancer treatment, the biggest knowledge gaps remain finding a reliable form of early and universal detection and an individually adaptable form of consistently successful treatment(7).
A major disease that is in a developmental stage of understanding is Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is known to affect the brain in thought, memory and function over an individual’s life, in which plaque and tangled bundle fibers form in the brain. The major issue and knowledge gap with the study and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is that there is no single test that can properly detect a person with Alzheimers. Also, there are varying stages of the intense effects of this disease, from mild to severe. Currently, there are many possible tests focusing on mental, physical, and brain imaging methods. Aging and Alzheimer related genes have been found to correlate with one another and are known to cause an overall loss in body function, ultimately leading to death. Even with this known information, there is still no known cure(8).
As aforementioned, Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose due to the complicated nature of the brain. With this said, serious knowledge gaps still exist regarding mental health. Suicide is among the top ten causes of death and can result from a variety of origins, including physical disorders(9), mental illness and psychiatric symptoms(10). While there are psychological tests to gauge suicide risk and chemical tests to diagnose depression, there is no standardized way to determine risk of suicide, highlighting a knowledge gap in the area of mental health and suicide(10). The knowledge gaps between these four causes of death are massive restrictions to providing efficient health care. But, once addressed, steps may be taken to bridge them.
1: Nicholas, Hannah. “The Top 10 Leading Causes of Death in the US.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php>.
2: Silver, Kate. “Silent Heart Attack: Symptoms, Risks — Go Red For Women.” Go Red For Women®. American Heart Association, 12 June 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2016. <https://www.goredforwomen.org/about-heart-disease/facts_about_heart_disease_in_women-sub-category/silent-heart-attack-symptoms-risks/>.
3: Sinatra, Stephen. “Assessing Your Risk Factors of Heart Disease.” Dr. Sinatra. Healthy Directions, 08 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Mar. 2016. <http://www.drsinatra.com/assessing-your-risk-factors-of-heart-disease/>.
4: “7 Heart Tests That Could Save Your Life.” Prevention. Rodale Incorporated, 3 Nov. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2016. <http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/heart-attacks-7-heart-tests-can-save-your-life>.
5: “Medications To Prevent Heart Attacks.” Heart Attack Prevention(2015): 45-64. Health Source – Consumer Edition. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.
6: “Anatomy of Cancer: Understanding a Disease that Affects Millions.” Cancer Treatment Centers of America. November 1, 2013. <http://www.cancercenter.com/discussions/blog/anatomy-of-cancer/>
7: Dienstmann, Rodrigo, Jordi Rodon, Jordi Barretina, Josep Tabernero. “Genomic Medicine Frontier in Human Solid Tumors: Prospects and Challenges.” Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol. 31, Issue 15: 1874-1884. May 20, 2013.
8: Meng, G., Zhong, X., & Mei, H. (2016). A Systematic Investigation into Aging Related Genes in Brain and Their Relationship with Alzheimer’s Disease. Plos ONE, 11(3), 1-17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150624
9: Bolton, J. M., et al. “Risk Of Suicide And Suicide Attempts Associated With Physical Disorders: A Population-Based, Balancing Score-Matched Analysis.” Psychological Medicine 45.3 (2015): 495-504 10p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
10: Gray, Douglas, et al. “Comparative Analysis Of Suicide, Accidental, And Undetermined Cause Of Death Classification.” Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior 44.3 (2014): 304-316 13p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
Knowledge Gaps Regarding Health Status (regarding MetaView)
Genetic Knowledge Gaps:
- The biggest knowledge gap that simply does not allow for in body genetic testing is the bulkiness of a device, as well as, the need to centrifuge and add chemicals to blood in analyzing specific SNP’s
- Another major area of concern is that the testing and analyzing of genetics is very unpredictable, in which variability between individuals does not allow for a clear picture of how chronic related diseases are introduced to the body.
- Lastly, one must understand that finding a mutated gene does not always mean that a person will show signs of the disease immediately, and over time a specific disease may become apparent.
Glucose knowledge gaps.
- Constant glucose monitoring already exists, so we are certain the science is possible. But, it is currently a device which sits partially outside the body, not completely internalized.
- The biggest challenge would probably be attaching it to the other devices.
Metabolic knowledge gaps:
- A major knowledge gap in our study is that a metabolic based device can not simply become microscopic enough to fit within the body. The smallest devices are currently approximately 3 inches by 3 inches in size.
- The MetaView claims to use internal “inductive charger[s] imbedded into their design,” but, in reality, powering the lasers and light projectors would pose a difficulty.
- Another major area of concern is how the device will function when using blood flow CO2 levels rather than air CO2 levels. Air is a fairly simple substance, while CO2 devices attempting to measure through blood would most likely encounter problems of interference.
- Putting the devices near blood vessels may pose serious safety concerns.
- As well, this device is the use of an infrared laser that will be placed within the body, which may pose more safety concerns.
- For the O2 device, even if an individual’s blood is oxygen saturated, some people have a lack of red blood cells. (This may be mostly people with respiratory diseases)
- Every person is different and requires different amounts of oxygenation to function “well.” The MetaView attempts to compensate for this by primarily telling you whether you are improving or not. But, this is still a concern.
General knowledge gaps:
- None of these devices account for mental or emotional health.
- This device would not be financially viable for all people.