Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


Another job for “junk DNA”: Killing cancer in blind mole rats

Researcher: “The paper describes an important new mechanistic insight into the way one can trigger inflammatory signals in cancer cells to either kill them directly or make them vulnerable to cancer-killing therapies,” says cancer biologist Stephen Baylin of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. “The importance of it is really quite profound.” Read More ›

A new open access paper offers an approach to cancer that sees past Darwin

Researchers: Although neo-Darwinian (and less often Lamarckian) dynamics are regularly invoked to interpret cancer’s multifarious molecular profiles, they shine little light on how tumorigenesis unfolds and often fail to fully capture the frequency and breadth of resistance mechanisms. Read More ›

Epigenetics: Biologists discover 71 new “imprinted” genes in the mouse genome

Researchers: Scientists have yet to work out how one parental version of a given gene can be switched (or faded) on or off and maintained that way while the other is in the opposite state. It is known that much of the on/off switching occurs during the formation of gametes (sperm and egg), but the precise mechanisms remain unclear. This new study points to the intriguing possibility that some imprinted genes may not be marked in gametes, but become active later in development, or even in adulthood. Read More ›

Darwinians understand cancer: It is caused by “cheating” cells

Why is it that naturalism ends up sounding so much like folklore? Cells “cheat,” which means they can think like people, right? Oh wait. The mind is an illusion ... but anyway, cells “think”? Sure. That'll work. Read More ›

The genes that come to life after you die

The most likely explanation is that death is a process of shutting down, rather than an instant when everything stops. The genes to grow a spinal column, for example, resurfaced but maybe they had been suppressed because the deceased already had one. Still much to learn but that’s a good hypothesis to test. Read More ›

The immune cells, it turns out, have secret police

“Natural killer cells” roam the body, demanding that other cells produce evidence of good faith—otherwise, they kill them: In general, two things must happen before an NK cell attacks a target cell: (1) It must receive an activating signal from a body cell that says, “Kill me!” (2) It must not receive an inhibitory signal that says, “Wait, don’t kill me!” This inhibitory signal is essentially a proper “ID card” known as a major histocompatibility complex I (MHC I) protein. When a body cell shows the NK cell this identification, the NK cell is temporarily satisfied and moves on to the next cell. If the next cell is not able to provide an MHC I molecule (or provides one that Read More ›

How, exactly, do damaged or diseased cells “commit suicide” to protect the body?

Why this matters: Cancer cells avoid destruction by inhibiting a process (which is called necroptosis). And necroptosis happening when it shouldn’t “is linked to the damage from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and tissue injury from blood flow loss.” Targeting these processes could be an avenue for treatment. Read More ›

Why people don’t “trust science”: The “Cancer Personality”

Some of us remember the spate of sciencey articles that appeared in women’s mags on the cancer-prone personality. It sounded wrong at the time. Many of us knew so many people who had died of cancer who didn't fit the type at all. Read More ›

Researchers: How the immune system “thinks”

They can say that “thinks” is “just an image” if they like. But at what point does it become clear that somehow something must have been doing something that we would normally describe as thinking or else this wouldn’t be happening. Read More ›

Researchers: A kill cancer code is embedded in every cell

From ScienceDaily: A kill code is embedded in every cell in the body whose function may be to cause the self-destruction of cells that become cancerous, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. As soon as the cell’s inner bodyguards sense it is mutating into cancer, they punch in the kill code to extinguish the mutating cell. The code is embedded in large protein-coding ribonucleic acids (RNAs) and in small RNAs, called microRNAs, which scientists estimate evolved more than 800 million years ago in part to protect the body from cancer. The toxic small RNA molecules also are triggered by chemotherapy, Northwestern scientists report. Cancer can’t adapt or become resistant to the toxic RNAs, making it a potentially bulletproof treatment if Read More ›