Thursday, July 28, 2005

Attack of the metaphors

The military metaphor has for years been integral to the way we talk about modern medicine, but it seems the kind of language used is already becoming more specific in the wake of terrorist attacks. Take this opening paragraph from an article on today's BBC website: 'A nanocell that can burrow into a tumour, cut off its blood supply and detonate a lethal dose of anti-cancer toxins has been developed.' The article goes on, 'The researchers loaded the outer membrane of the nanocell with an anti-angiogenic drug and the inner balloon with chemotherapy agents. They also created a surface chemistry which allowed the nanocell to evade detection by the immune system.' Even the article's title, 'Nanoparticles double hit on cancer' seems to allude to recent events. It quotes Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK as referring to nanoparticles as a sort of therapeutic 'Trojan horse', attacking the cancer cell by stealth from within.

This is eerily similar to the kinds of language being used in the press to describe the London bombers: 'terror cells' that have evaded detection by appearing 'normal' on the 'surface' before detonating lethal bombs. Of course the difference being that the nanocells are supposed to be the heroes in the scenario rather than the terrorists...

2 comments:

aj said...

Not hugely related but interesting - a BBC story on inter-commuter suspicion on the tube:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4717251.stm

backcare said...
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