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"Novelty" gene

Stevejoe stevejoe at qconline.com
Wed Jan 24 03:43:39 EST 1996

ON Date: 3 Jan 1996 09:32:27 -0800
rhall at uvi.edu (Richard Hall) said:

>I doubt anyone questions the role of inheritance in the formation of
>personality or any other aspect of our being.  Yet, we are more than the
>sum of genes on a string.

I hope you are right - but I think our genetic makeup strongly shapes our 
environment - much more so than most people think - it is no accident that a 
mole lives in a hole.

>For example, the principle of emergent properties suggests that as a system
>becomes more complex it tends to develop new, unexpected characteristics.
>Once speech became possible, natural selection rapidly selected genes that
>exploited the novelty and thus shaped the future of our species and its
>social structures.  But the functional outcome of natural selection is
>always a phenotype. 

Natural selection greatly strengthens your argument - but what about 
unnatural selection?  Ah, but that's another subject.  Can you give examples 
of systems that become more complex on their own other than life? I digress 
again.  Once again, I don't think the new unexpected characteristics you 
talk about are that unexpected.

>There is another aspect of genetic legacy that deserves consideration.  I
>seem to recall an article in Science years ago that reported the existance
>of "alfala gene products" in mammalian genomes.  Real or not, we probably
>retain genetic information that is no longer used in an original context.
>This genetic talus may provide a wealth of evolutionary insights.

This is a very interesting point you have brought up here.  I said the same 
thing many years ago about the so called large amount of "nonsense" coding 
in the DNA molecule.  I believe, as you point out, that much of this 
"nonsense" is old genetic information - and in fact, contains evolutionary 
vestiges of our past.   I think a man named Albert Szent-Gyorgi had some 
interesting insights as to some of the problems of this genetic "junk".

>I am willing to wager that the human phenotype will still
>outnumber the human genotype.

How much $$$ ?

ON Date: 4 Jan 96 01:42:19 -0800
RNorman at msn.com (Richard Norman) said:

>Is it not much more likely that that particular receptor is involved
>in a myriad of circuits/systems/pathways, but that "novelty" seems
>to be one that was caught by a particular test?

I found your argument to be very well put.

ON Date: Wed, 3 Jan 96 17:57:49 CST
Message-ID: <75541.robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu> said:

>what molecular pathways are 
>involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, and can be interrupted 
>to prevent its development.  Genetics and molecular biology are the 
>tools which will be used to answer these questions.

I am all for research - and I hope you are right - but I still feel genetics 
seems to get all the attention - whatever happened to physical chemistry?  I 
think Otto Warburg had more insight into some disease processes over 60 
years ago than the sum total of all the genetics researchers to date.

ON Date: 4 Jan 1996 12:34:35 GMT
Organization: Radford University
From: dmcclain at runet.edu (Dennis McClain-Furmanski) said:

>Sure, it's a long shot. But seeing far poorly and be wrong sometimes is a 
>damn sight more likely to produce useful results than not seeing far at 

I think Dr. Frankenstein said that same thing to the townspeople...  :->

ON Date: 4 Jan 1996 18:13:42 -0800
From: ds005c at UHURA.CC.ROCHESTER.EDU (Dave Seaman) said:

>understanding these mechanisms is a large step in the direction of curing
>or treating that dysfunction.  In fact, many advances in the treatment of
>diseases has been helped along by genetics, cancer included.

I have heard this same stuff over and over again about cancer.  I have not 
seen any advances in the treatment of cancer.  Oh sure, we are slowly being 
forced to admit that the so-called quacks have been right about some things. 
 A short 10 years ago the "Powers That Be" called anyone a quack who said 
that diet had anything to do with cancer.  Now I ask you - Who were the 
quacks?  I have watched many people die of cancer - so don't tell me about 
advances in cancer treatment.  These people all received the latest and 
greatest - and you know where they are today?  They are dead.

And if you get cancer - you will get the same mix of chemotherapy and 
radiation - oh, they may give you a little more of A than B, or a little 
more of C than D, but in the end you will end up where they are.  A nice 
thing about oncology - the customers don't complain.  Sorry if I sound 
bitter - too bad!

ON Date: 5 Jan 1996 03:59:46 -0800
From: ds005c at UHURA.CC.ROCHESTER.EDU (Dave Seaman) said:

>What do I have to say to you?  "Humph!", that's what!  How can you say
>there's no reason to keep on in genetics research the way it is now?  Just
>because it gets more press does not mean that it needs to be watered down.
>The way I see it, research into any viable area is good; ANY good press of
>good research is a societal step forward.  And besides, genetics is one of
>those areas with great potential only with a lot of work from a lot of

Like I said, I am all for research.  You want proof that genetics research 
is not living up to its potential?  Here is a quote from a recent national 
wire service:

   "However,  experts are leery of widespread genetic screening.  Among  the 
   --Even if someone is found to have a genetic susceptibility to cancer, it 
is not clear what, if anything, can be done to help them avoid the disease. 
   --A negative test result may give a false sense of security. A woman with 
no  errors  in  her  BRCA1  gene  still  probably  faces the same 12 percent 
lifetime risk of breast cancer that other women have.  
   --Those who carry the gene might be shunned by insurance  companies.  "It 
   is critical that we create safeguards to ensure that the benefits of 
testing exceed the risks," Collins wrote in a journal editorial."

I don't know about you - but if I were a woman I would want to know if I had 
the BRCA1 gene.  I could at least try to avoid the disease.  And look at the 
reference to the insurance companies.  Like I said - if we can't even tell 
people when genetic research has a clear benefit - then what good is it?

And to the use of gene-splicing...  You know, life evolved over millions of 
years to be in its present state.  Ancient Chinese proverb says, "Man who is 
at war with Nature - is at war with Himself."

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