Heliyon. 2022 Dec 8;8(12):e12035. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e12035. eCollection 2022 Dec.
This interdisciplinary study falls within the realm of ethnoscience thanks to its resorting to the scientific methods behind the Micronesian canoe voyaging in search of bioimaging tools for the early prediction of cell fate in response to a therapy. Two distinct indigenous methods for navigation across the ocean were assessed as bridges for correlating (i) the interaction of oceanic swells near atolls with the way microcurrents in the cell culture dish may shape the morphology of cells, and (ii) the spatial arrangement of cultured cells with the canoe voyaging from one island to the next. Both methods effectively predicted the cell fate at early time points in the treatment with superparamagnetic nanoparticles, when the adverse effects were still reversible and not apparent yet at the levels of cell morphology, proliferation rate or confluence. The mattang chart, the most fundamental and theoretical of navigational devices used in the Marshallese seafaring tradition, was used to measure subtle morphological changes occurring in cells due to the treatment. The cells subjected to the treatment were consistently withdrawing their bodies from the areas of intense swell interaction activity on the superimposed mattangs. Given that the cytoskeletal microfilaments defining the features of control cells were largely filling up these areas, this metric proved useful for deducing the course of the treatment at its early stages. The same deduction was proven feasible with the use of a Carolinian navigational technique based on the concept of the etak, in which case the distances traversable between cells in a population subjected to the treatment were divisible to a significantly higher number of etaks than the same distances in the population of control cells. Therefore, treating cells and their nuclei as analogous to Pacific atolls navigable to and fro with the use of imaginary microscopic canoes and the navigational principles native to the Marshall and the Caroline Islands proves as a clever, but also very effective cell fate prediction approach, which various branches of biomedical science could take advantage of. These practical benefits notwithstanding, this conceptual study was performed primarily with a goal to spark the interest in studying these and other ancient ethnoscientific inventions as potential addenda to the broad repertoire of techniques used in biomedical and other sciences to combat some of their greatest challenges.