The Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty

The Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty states that you can’t eat your cake and keep it at the same time … sort of … okay, it doesn’t talk about cake exactly. Well, it states that for tiny objects like an electron, you can’t know its position and velocity at the same time. In more words, if you know its precise position, then you can’t know how fast it’s moving, or if you know how fast it’s moving, then you can’t know its precise position. Yup, one or the other, and not both. That’s why it’s a principle of uncertainty, you will always be uncertain about something. Hmmm, it kind of sounds like the principle of “real life”. Anyway, did I tell you that everything can be related to cancer research?

Medicine has entered the era of “Personalized Care.”  Nowadays, not only can a person find out that he or she has a certain type of cancer, but it can be determined what type of mutations the cancer has.  And as mentioned in a previous post, it can also be determined which of these are “driver” mutations, for example, the ones that drive the cancer, allowing its cells to divide endlessly, invade into other organs, and spread by metastasis.  Wow, that’s great! “Precision Medicine” they call it.  But wait a minute, did you know that new mutations continue to occur as the cancer keeps dividing?  And potentially one mutation is all it takes for the “target to move” and for the personalized treatment to stop working (i.e., resistance).  Yes, despite the advances in medicine and the arrival of precision medicine, the super expensive and personalized treatment will work for only as short as three months. After that, the cancer starts to grow again.  Reminiscent of the Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty, it seems like the faster a target is moving, the harder it will be to hit it. So given how rapidly cancers cells are mutating, it might not be the best thing to aim your sharp skinny arrow at a single precise target, or put all the eggs into one basket, so to speak.

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