Category Archives: Science Communicators

Hyperspectral Cell Imaging: A New Possible Gadget to Combat Cancer

As medical technology make advances and quality of life improves, it has become increasingly common for us to know of someone who has experienced cancer. But if our way of life today is better than it was fifty years ago, why do we hear more about cancer now than before?

To understand why, we should first understand what cancer is and a bit about our bodies. Inside our bodies we have trillions of cells, and every day billions of them die and get replaced through mitosis (a process that splits one cell into two identical cells). Due to the number of times that cells go through mitosis, it’s almost impossible to avoid making a mutation – a mistake in copying (think about your own repetitive experiences). Of course, the body has mechanisms to fix the mutations, and most mutations are harmless anyway, but sometimes the mechanism will miss one. Eventually, over a long enough period of time, the body will miss a mutation that is capable of causing a lethal form of cancer.

So, we learned that if we live long enough, we can’t escape cancer but what is it? Cancer is a general term for more specific diseases, but we just call them cancer because they share a common similarity. Normal cells will go through a death-rebirth cycle, but cancer cells are dysfunctional cells that don’t have the death signal. Instead, the cancer cells just keep dividing, taking away nutrients from the surrounding functioning cells. When a tumour (large lump of cancer cells) form, cancer can also metastasize. This is when part of the tumour breaks off and travels to another part of the body, forming a new cancer site. Cancer is dangerous because if there are not enough functioning cells, the result can be fatal.

Why has cancer become so prominent? We mentioned earlier that we increase our chance of developing cancer over time; cancer is a function of age. Well, fifty years ago, people were more likely to die at younger ages due to injury or other diseases. With new medical advances we have increased our average life span, and have thus increased our chance of developing cancer.

Although researchers have been working towards a cure for cancer, there has been no definitive success yet. However, Dr. Martial Guillaud, a senior cancer researcher at the BC Cancer Research Centre, and his team have just made a strong contribution to cancer research. They have developed a new imaging technique called Hyperspectral Imaging technique that will give medical practitioners accurate information in a short time frame. One benefit to the new imaging technique is that it can predict whether or not a patient will respond to immunotherapy – a treatment that uses your own body to fight against cancer. To gain a better understanding of the research take a look at our video describing the technology and demonstrating the imaging analysis, as well as a listen to our podcast highlighting how the imaging system is supposed to help doctors.


Podcast sound track from CCCM Labs.

Group 3: Simrat Chahal, Cindy San, Eurwin Szeto, Justin Wong


Polar what is….. Vortex?

What is a Polar Vortex?

The first thing that strikes to my mind when I say “Polar vortex” is some phenomenon related to earth’s poles. We are hearing a lot about the polar vortex lately, but it has been around a few decades. These are strong and cold winds originating around the Arctic region. These winds originate specially around the North Pole which which are capable to enter parts of United States and Canada. These winds can be strong enough to create very low temperatures around these areas.

An image depicting the region of flow of the winds.


Image showing the flow of the polar vortex winds. Source:


The following video is posted by USA Today and talks about the Polar vortex and its effects.

(Credit: USA Today


Recent Effects of the Polar Vortex:

United States: The devastating weather conditions brought by the Polar Vortex around January 31st killed at least 8 people in several places around the US.

Following video shows a river turning into snow in Chicago

Credit: Guardian News


The following image shows all the regions that faced the consequences of the Polar Vortex:

Areas affected in the USA by the polar vortex,

Canada: Canada has been affected in regions of Ontario and Quebec. The temperature fell to -30 degree Celsius in these areas. Canada has witnessed polar vortex earlier in 2015 as well. But this year, it had much worse effects.

The following video demonstrates the areas affected in Canada.

(Credit: CTV News, Source:

These changes have also been observed in Vancouver, with extreme cold snow days even in the month of February. We observed entire days of shutdown due to this extreme weather.

The heat wave at Australia when North America faced harsh cold winters due to polar vortex:

As shocking at may seem, when North America was facing polar vortex, Australia was suffering from extreme heat waves. How can this happen? It was the hottest in 80 years! This climate change is not what anyone expected and has been a major concern for environmentalists.

Below is an image showing a picture depicting the shocking heat wave

Heat Wave in Australia,

The reason behind these extreme climatic variations: 

This is caused by global warming, which can be said as a man-made climatic change. This caused by the burning of various fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal which release CO2 to the atmosphere. This extra release of CO2 in the atmosphere leads to an increase in the temperature of oceans as well as lands. Also, there is a strong link between the extremities of the weather condition and global warming.

By: Simrat Chahal