Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sunday Sermonette: sacred sperm and monkey's uncles

Tantalizing, no? It's just a teaser to point out some pretty darn-tootin' interesting findings coming from a Cornell lab (lead by Rasmus Neilsen) that suggests the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees may predispose humans to cancer.

A comparison of chimpanzee genes to human genes shows a concentration of genes unique to people in areas associated with sperm production and cancer, and suggests the changes that make humans unique also make us uniquely prone to cancer.

"While we expected to find genes involved in olfaction, spermatogenesis, and immune defense among the 50 annotated genes ... we were surprised to find a very large proportion of cancer-related genes, especially genes involved in tumor suppression, apoptosis, and cell cycle control sequences," they wrote.
For non-geeks: cancer is cell proliferation gone awry & apoptosis is programmed cell death (keeps cell proliferation from going into overdrive) - as this overview summarizes it, develpment & cancer are "flip sides of the same coin".

The creationists among us will have a problem with this, it shows an inter-relatedness of species they consider unbiblical and therefor blasphemous. My most vivid memory of my Human Genetics class was when my Professor showed us the karyogram of a chimpanzee. The chimpanzee had 24 pairs of chromosomes vs. humans , which have 23 (including the sex chromosomes). I vaguely remember a reference to the material on human chromosome #2 being split into 2 different chromosomes in the chimp. I probably still have a copy of the karyograms she showed us and my notes (I know for a fact I still have a copy of the first karyogram I did for my class). Alas, all that stuff's packed away somewhere & I don't have time to hunt it down. However, thanks to the internet, I was able to find a pretty interesting read supporting evolution using chromosomal evidence to support common ancestry.

The creationist "bible is complete and inerrant" crowd need to understand that the subtle destruction of gospel and perversion of faith was predicted by Jesus himself:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” [Acts 20:29-30, Matthew 7:15, 24:5]
Knowlege and religion are not enemies, I just wish everyone understood that.

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