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Solving Old Problems Through New Framing

Len Batterson, January 15, 2024

By reframing the problem, new nuances and a different form of analysis may lead to a solution.

Some technical problems take many years to solve, if they are solved at all. This delay creates the impression that the problems are too complex and too difficult to solve based on current knowledge. Is it better to wait until there is new knowledge, which can then be deployed toward a solution?

Waiting can be long. Some situations, such as effective treatment for some forms of cancer, are life and death and may come too late. Often, the wait is prolonged because the perspective employed to find a solution to the program has little to offer, so the problem gets kicked further down the road. 

Various cancer treatments have been deployed for thousands of years, beginning with trying to burn out the cancer with a hot stick to the latest immunotherapy. Approaches have been adopted using biology, genetics, chemistry, and other fields of study. The field of study selected often dictated and shaped the approach to a solution.

What if, all along, the problem was never the complexity of the problem itself but rather applying approaches self-selected by the field of study? By reframing the problem, new nuances and a different form of analysis may lead to a solution. The problem was never the problem but the way the problem was perceived. A new perspective often causes a problem to be a ghost without substance, and challenges toward a solution vanish.

In the field of cancer treatment, one entrepreneur, Lew Bender, at Intensity Therapeutics, recently reframed the treatment of solid cancer tumors. New effective insight was developed focusing on fluid physics rather than on biology, chemistry, or genetics. Applying the principles of fluid physics provided the critical insight that to kill a solid tumor, it was both possible and necessary to get more cancer-killing chemo into the tumor than was possible through systemic administration of the chemo and by administering the chemo by targeted injection directly into the tumor much more of the chemo was presented to the cancer cell either kill them outright or to modify the cancer cells DNA so that the modified cell now presented an abundance of receptor/targets on the surface of the cancer cell. This abundance of targets provided the immune system, including T-cells and CD4 cells, with many more opportunities to kill cancer cells both in the tumor and the tumor microenvironment. Once injected through the assistance of a penetrating agent, the old-time chemo is released in the cancer cell, and the pressure of the tumor on the fluid presents more of the chemo to the now receptor-supercharged cancer cell surface.

Though new framing of an old problem, it now appears that even the deadliest cancers could become chronic diseases. Often, in the development of effective technology, the view of the problem is the problem, and the solution is more apparent once the problem is reframed.