Nov 23 2006

Evolution At Work

Published by at 9:27 am under All General Discussions,Stem Cell Debate

I want to focus in on one aspect of the groundbreaking genetic study which I wrote about below that illustrates the unlocked power of evolution, and why we cannot allow companies to ‘own’ human genes. It is the genes that resist disease that will help cure disease. But human genes cannot ever be property – never. You will see why in a moment. One of the interesting discoveries found in the study was regional variations in the numbers of copies of certain genes that helped fend off regional diseases:

There are just under 30,000 genes in the human genome, which consists of about 3 billion “letters” of the DNA code. The scientists found that more than 10 per cent of these genes appear to be multiplied in the 270 people who took part in the study. They do not know why some genes are copied and some are not. One gene, called CCL3L1, which is copied many times in people of African descent, appears to confer resistance to HIV. Another gene involved in making a blood protein is copied many times in people from south-east Asia and seems to help against malaria. Other research has shown that variation in the number of copies of some genes is involved in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Take note of where the multiple copies of genes arose and their ability to ward off diseases that eminated from those regions. HIV is a human version of Simian IV which originated out of Africa. Malaria is common in the Asian regions near the oceans. Viruses like Malaria and HIV try survive by inflitrating human cells and taking over their DNA to make more viruses. The body reacts by creating antigens which attack the viruses and hold them to the cells lost in the initial attack.

As I alluded to in the previous post, multiple copies of genes mean a higher production rate of the proteins these genes are encoded to create. It is like having one assembly line verses muliple lines – it is all about productivity. Key to stopping an infection is the ability to produce enough defensive proteins to take out all the invading offensive virus agents. Since the body only reacts and starts building defenders until it is infected (so it can build the perfect defender), the ability to ramp up production is critical to winning the early stages of the battle.

The fact that people from regions where these diseases eminated have stronger defenses is a common indicator of evolution. As long as these genes are coming from adults no company can ‘own’ these cures. The one aspect of ESCR that may be crumbling is the idea that embryos, not yet being considered a human being, mean companies might make try to lay claim to the human genes in this legal limbo. I have always had my suspicions ESCR was more about money than anything else. But what this study shows is we will find that it is not a gene, but the number of copies of that gene, that will define who fights off a disease and who doesn’t. This would be a great tool in fighting illnesses. We might find a way to inject or graft cells that provide the necessary production capacity to lift the body’s production level to win the initial battles. But we do not want to have the winning genes ‘owned’ by any one corporation. The method of enhancing the body’s defenses can be pattented, but not the genes themselves. Congress needs to act now to grab this issue before it gets out of reach.

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Evolution At Work”

  1. erp says:

    Do you really want congress critters to grab onto this issue?

  2. cahmd says:

    Malaria is a parasite not a virus. Evolutionary methods for mitigating malaria infection include changes in the coding for hemoglobin which appear to lead to structural alternations that shorten red blood cell survival. Heterozygotes for these hemoglobin alterations are resistant to malaria infections. Homozygotes suffer from such diseases as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia. Malaria has a world-wide distribution, although tropical and mediterranean regions have the highest prevalence. Perhaps you were thinking of Yellow Fever, which like malaria is spread by mosquitoes but is caused by a virus.

  3. erp says:

    Doc, how effective do you think netting is in preventing malaria?

  4. ama055131 says:

    I have learned more with your posts and archives in stem cell reasearch, then have in at least 10 tears (you are lightyears ahead of me). I love this stuff it makes you think and reasearch and I have been TRING to do this but as a novice it slow going. KEEP these post coming THANKS Alan

  5. ama055131 says:

    Just to let you know but if you seen a bigger amount of SO. FLA. traffic Ill take a small bow and a very small one but I turm on a about over 50 people who make up a 50-50 DEMS vs REP. I prettymuch got the same results “I rather read someone smart then the garbage being spewed out there.

  6. ama055131 says:

    Sorry to ramble on but if my wife reads your post everyday and she is not one to read no blogs!

  7. Molon Labe says:

    Does anyone here know macranger? Can someone get the word to him that his blog (macsmind) is completely hosed – at least when viewed with IE7?

    All the blog posts appear on top of each other.

  8. AJStrata says:

    Molon Labe,

    I sent your message to Mac. FYI – his site looks fine in Firefox, the browser I use.

    Cheers, AJStrata

  9. Barbara says:

    I had to highlight MacMind in order to read it.