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A technique for predicting the response of cells and tissues to a physicochemical stimulus without the use of expensive molecular markers and at time points before any morphological changes can be visibly spotted would be a meaningful addendum to the current set of bioimaging tools. One such method was developed here based on correlating transformed distance matrices of populations of cultured cells and digital checkerboard patterns derived from traditional central African drawings in the sand. Similarity measurements were made at an early time point in the therapy administered to bone cancer cells in the form of composite magnetic nanoparticles. At this early of a time point, the cell viability was mildly reduced, but no gross alterations to the cell morphology or density were visible yet. Similarity score evaluation demonstrated a significantly higher degree of similarity between the patterns derived from the sand drawings and the cells subjected to the treatment than between the former patterns and the untreated cell controls. The treated cells produced more ordered and symmetric patterns than the control ones after the processing of their pairwise distant matrices, explaining their better geometric correlation with the ancestral sand arabesques, which were monolinear and commonly comprised multiple mirror planes and rotational symmetry axes. This has suggested that the course of the therapy could be predicted by a relatively simple comparison between raw optical images of cells and indigenous ideographs using the metrics postulated here. The interdisciplinary method developed in this study may prove applicable for in situ monitoring of the response of cells and tissues to various therapies, allowing for the early indications of adverse effects to be noticed based on the simple optical observations of cells and acted upon before the progression toward nonviable states becomes irreversible. The method elaborated here may also provide an impetus for a broader search for solutions to problems plaguing the modern medicine outside of the scope of its mainstream analytical frameworks and in the ancestral heritage of relatively obscure ethnic traditions.
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