Engineering the Treatment of Early-Stage Lung Cancer [SPONSORED]

This podcast was produced for the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson by Scientific American Custom Media, a division separate from the journal’s board of editors.

This interview with Hannah McEwen, PhD, the head of engineering sciences for the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson, will talk about novel procedures that supply minimally invasive options to help in the identification, prognosis and therapy of early-stage lung lesions. These embody robotic bronchoscopes that assist oncologists diagnose tough to achieve lung nodules, and coverings that will one-day be used to ship remedy on to early-stage tumors.


Megan Hall: Lung most cancers is the main trigger of most cancers deaths in the world. Why? Because it’s tough to detect in its early levels and laborious to deal with as soon as it’s found. The Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson is working to reverse that pattern. And to take action, it wants not simply medical doctors and researchers, however engineers. Hannah McEwen is the Head of Engineering Sciences for the group. 

She just lately sat down with Scientific American Custom Media to clarify the function engineering can play in remodeling lung most cancers prognosis and therapy. 

Hall: When one hears about the discipline of engineering, it’s not all the time related to medication.  When Hannah McEwen began her engineering profession, she did so fascinated by potentialities to use the rules and problem-solving strategies of engineering to biology and medication to finally enhance healthcare. 

Hannah McEwen: If I am going again to my early days, even again at my college, in undergrad, I actually started to fall in love with this concept that engineering can actually be used to rework a affected person’s well being. 

Hall: That love blossomed at her first internship, engaged on digital units to supply a way of sound to people who find themselves profoundly deaf or laborious of listening to. She says these cochlear implants had been a hanging instance of how engineering can enhance the high quality of life. 

McEwen: We apply physics and mechanics and electrical engineering, and it might remodel somebody’s life, from someday with the ability to hear nothing to then with the ability to hear voices and other people and sounds and, actually having a transformational impression.

Hall: Hannah finally joined Johnson and Johnson, the place she spent greater than a decade growing orthopedic implants designed to assist individuals stroll and transfer once more. Over time, she began collaborating with colleagues throughout the firm on new and aspirational initiatives.

McEwen: We do not simply take into consideration ready till somebody has a illness and have a look at treating them then. But what can we do to intervene earlier in that illness development?

Hall: Lung most cancers is a perfect illness for this line of pondering. It’s the most deadly kind of most cancers right this moment as a result of it’s a extremely complicated illness. As half of the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson, Hannah has assembled a workforce of engineers to tackle this problem. 

McEwen: They all come from pretty numerous backgrounds, working in numerous components of healthcare, totally different procedures, not all with an oncology background, however they actually have a ardour and innovation for, how do you begin with an issue, begin with an unmet want, after which establish whether or not there are applied sciences, both from inside J&J or people who find themselves actually good at constructing partnerships outdoors of J&J, as effectively.

Hall: Engineers are serving to to handle lung most cancers? Hannah says, of course, it’s about designing new applied sciences to establish and deal with the illness, and it’s greater than that. 

McEwen: It’s additionally about how do you even do a surgical or an interventional process to have the ability to diagnose what somebody’s well being could also be, after which be capable to restore or deal with the situation that they’ve. It’s the applied sciences and bodily and mechanical options which might be used to deal with issues which might be occurring in the human physique.

Hall: Hannah and her workforce, for instance, usually observe lung most cancers procedures and ask questions. 

McEwen: We will usually have a look at not simply what the gadget is doing that the doctor is making an attempt to make use of in a process. But how is it dealt with? Who is the one who arms the gadget to the doctor? When we observe different issues occurring, we may even see, there are a lot of different employees in that room who are also using totally different instruments in that process. And we get to look at firsthand the totally different challenges they’ve. 

Hall: Those observations assist Hannah’s workforce to not solely develop a particular device, but in addition establish the have to develop further applied sciences, or new methods of utilizing devices that exist already. For instance, may a robotic bronchoscope do extra than simply allow the physician to take a pattern of a lesion in somebody’s lung? What when you may have the potential someday to establish a most cancers proper there after which?

McEwen: That, at the time of the process, helps me see that my biopsy needle, the lesion it’s in, I can have a look at it, I can say Oh, it’s beneath a microscope and see that that is undoubtedly a most cancers that I ought to do one thing about.

McEwen: How can we resolve proper there after which sure, I’ve a very good pattern and it’s most cancers, after which perhaps someday go forward and truly deal with it in that very same process?

Hall: In this future state, as soon as most cancers had been confirmed the physician may at the identical time inject medication or apply power to start therapy of the tumor.  Hannah says this method could not solely be extra environment friendly but it surely’s additionally her hope sufferers would expertise much less of the undesirable results generally seen with systemic therapies. 

Hannah additionally says these new applied sciences and procedures to deal with sufferers are in growth right this moment. Some are even in medical trials. These instruments can be thrilling sufficient on their very own, however there’s extra to the Lung Cancer Initiative…

McEwen: We are constructing collectively options which have mechanical gadget, med tech and informatics options with the organic or pharmaceutical therapy modalities that we could use to have the ability to change somebody’s well being. That’s what motivates me to come back to work day-after-day. It’s the alternative to vary the illness. And it is an unimaginable privilege to work with the numerous groups to try this.

Hall: Hannah says she’s excited to see the Lung Cancer Initiative working to someday assist remodel the lives of hundreds of thousands of sufferers. She’s working along with her workforce, collaborators and throughout Johnson & Johnson day-after-day to make that future occur as quickly as doable.

Hannah McEwen is the Head of Engineering Sciences for the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson.

The Lung Cancer Initiative was fashioned in 2018 to unleash the full potential of science and know-how to vary the trajectory of this complicated illness.

This podcast was produced by Scientific American Custom Media and made doable by the help of the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson.

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Learn more about how Johnson & Johnson is taking a multi-disciplinary method to deal with lung most cancers.


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