Biomedical Platforms: Realigning the Normal and the Pathological in Late-twentieth-century Medicine

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MIT Press, 2003 - Science - 544 pages
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Since the end of World War II, biology and medicine have merged in remarkablyproductive ways. In this book Peter Keating and Alberto Cambrosio analyze the transformation ofmedicine into biomedicine and its consequences, ranging from the recasting of hospital architectureto the redefinition of the human body, disease, and therapeutic practices. To describe this newalignment between the normal and the pathological, the authors introduce the notion of thebiomedical platform. Defined as a specific configuration of instruments, individuals, and programs,biomedical platforms generate routines, entities, and activities, held together by standard reagentsand protocols. Biological entities such as cell surface markers, oncogenes, and DNA profiles nowexist as both normal biological components of the organism and as pathological signs -- that is, asbiomedical substances. The notion of a biomedical platform allows researchers interested in thedevelopment of contemporary medicine to describe events and processes overlooked by otherapproaches.The authors focus on a specific biomedical platform known as immunophenotyping. Theydescribe its emergence as an experimental system with roots in biology (immunology) and pathology(oncology). They recount how this experimental system was transformed into a biomedical platforminitially for the diagnosis of leukemia and subsequently for other diseases such as AIDS. Throughthis case study, they show that a biomedical platform is the bench upon which conventions concerningthe biological or normal are connected with conventions concerning the medical or pathological. Theyobserve that new platforms are often aligned with existing ones and integrated into an expanding setof clinical-biological strategies.


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Hospital Platforms
Building a Platform
Flow and Slides
List of Interviewees

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Page 485 - World Health Organization classification of neoplastic diseases of the hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues: report of the Clinical Advisory Committee Meeting - Airlie House, Virginia, November 1997.
Page 504 - The Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Pathologic Classification Project. National Cancer Institute sponsored study of classifications of Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Summary and description of a Working Formulation for clinical usage.
Page 461 - Cell surface characterization of malignant T cells from lymphoblastic lymphoma using monoclonal antibodies: Evidence for phenotypic differences between malignant T cells from patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma.
Page 461 - Proposed revised criteria for the classification of acute myeloid leukemia. A report of the French-American-British Cooperative Group.
Page 461 - Proposals for the classification of the acute leukaemias. French-American-British (FAB) cooperative group.

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About the author (2003)

Alberto Cambrosio is Associate Professor of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University.

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