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New Biology – Are Science And Spirituality More Interlinked Than We Think? PART II

Additionally, many would presume that diseases spur either from toxins, or as a result of inherited genes. This is not the case. Only 5% of diseases are hereditary, the majority instigating as a result of the mind. Consider the following:

A man found a black mark on his neck; he thought nothing of it. 22 years later, that black mark remained and a companion of his told him that it was a sign of lung cancer. He went to get it checked out. His friend had been right. He died two weeks later.

Is there not something to say here? The misfortune of lung cancer is put upon a man, who is only diagnosed 22 years later. He manages to lead a happy life in oblivion to his illness, but upon hearing the bad news, negative thoughts and fields of energy begin to take over, perhaps even become programmed into his subconscious mind in the limited time of 14 days. It is most likely that he so strongly believed that he would die very soon of the cancer that it became a truth, so much so that his body gave up the fight two weeks later.

When an individual says that they will get breast cancer because they have inherited the gene, this is strictly untrue. A predisposition to cancer means that the gene, which will most likely lead to the illness is present, however it does not guarantee the presence of said illness in the individual. If what the individual had said were true, why then, did they not begin to develop breast cancer from the moment they were born? The gene was not activated. And if it has been proven that the largest cause of disease is the mind, is it not dangerous to presume that one will get cancer if one has “the gene for it”? Perhaps the man with lung cancer would have died much later had he never found out.

Now, I do not mean to throw you off track by giving a very small introduction to physics, as I am no physicist myself. The two theories of physics that I want to discuss are Newtonian physics (Newton) and Quantum mechanics (Einstein). Newtonian physics is something that most biologists are very fond of, and essentially what they abide by. It focuses on all material things – matter. This is a very straightforward and clear way of thinking, whereby one step follows the next, and where anything that isn’t physical is ignored. Quantum physics, on the other hand, concentrates on the concept that all things are made up of three miniscule particles: protons, electrons and neutrons. These particles are waves of energy, and are therefore invisible. Quantum physics interlinks many different concepts and theories so that, contrarily to Newtonian attitude, there is no clear and strict direction of thought to be followed – it is holistic. So whereas Newtonian physics focuses on all solid, material and visible things, quantum mechanics focuses on energy; what is invisible. Is it fair to decipher our universe and everything on it by ignoring what it is principally made up of (energy)? The New Biology shows us that there will continue to be gaps in our knowledge and limits to our research unless we begin to consider quantum mechanics.

If we were to follow the line of quantum mechanics, for this purpose, we can conclude that every separate entity is in fact merged to create one complex system (reference to Gaia’s hypothesis, Lovelock 1965). Hence one entity affects the next and so on and so forth. The energy, thoughts and signals, emanated by one enter the next.

To conclude, if our brain and our environment control our cells so much more than we thought, but perhaps much less consciously than we thought, should we not be putting much more effort into the state of our mind and the state of our environment in order to maintain a healthy life with a flourishing community of cells? Perhaps the Western society of today places too much emphasis on pharmaceutical companies and not enough in what we consider to be Eastern remedies – those that are more spiritual and concentrate fundamentally on the self-renewal of cells.

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New Biology – Are Science And Spirituality More Interlinked Than We Think? PART I

In the laboratory, a cell is cultured in a medium and contained in a Petri dish. If the cell is dying or unwell, we simply have to remove it from that Petri dish and put it into another, where the medium and other environmental conditions have been altered slightly. Once this step has been accomplished, the cell automatically and autonomously regenerates itself.

Our human body is in fact a highly organized colony of cells. That in which the cells bathe is their medium: the blood. The blood carries messages, signals and hormones emitted by the brain. These enter and affect the cells, allowing us to conclude that the brain controls the wellbeing and the state of its body’s cells.

 For example, when under stress, the pituitary gland in the brain receives signals (via the control centers in the hypothalamus) and causes the secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands into the blood stream. This steroid hormone has a direct impact on cells, depending where and what function they have. Brain cell production hugely decreases, the immune system is suppressed, and it aids fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

So in the same way that an unwell cell in a Petri dish needs to be put into a new medium (different quantities of X & Y nutrients) in order to replenish, poorly cells in the human body would need the blood’s concentration of certain molecules to be altered in order to restore the cells’ welfare. However, similarly to the environment surrounding the Petri dish needing to be controlled for the health of the cell, the environment surrounding our body’s cells also needs to be controlled. By ‘environment’ I mean both our surroundings and our brain. The brain is after all the filter that allows environmental information to be passed through to the body. This could account for something as simple as a temperature change, or something far more complex such as the fields of energy and thoughts created from other organisms in the environs.

On that note, let us introduce the Brain MRI Scan. It consists of a large donut shaped magnetic tube in which the patient places their head while lying on a table. Put simply, it is able to receive fields and waves sent by the brain. However, the magnet does not share any physical contact with the patient’s head. This tells us that whatever electrical activity that takes place in the brain is emitted to its vicinity, thereby being processed by the brains of other individuals nearby. Hence, we can conclude that the thoughts and state of an organism will affect those of another. Therefore, in an environment where people are competing (under Darwinian theory) for survival of the fittest, stress and destructive fields of energy will be present and cause the detriment of cells. Surely this is not the key to evolution?

Hold that thought, and focus instead on this activity that takes place in the brain. As some of you may already know, the brain can be divided into two distinct categories: The subconscious mind, and the conscious mind. The subconscious is responsible for all our habitual behavioral patterns, such as waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth. It is essentially a preprogrammed set of information. The conscious mind is the creative part that is active when we focus on something that steers away from our daily routines. For example, when instructed to produce a painting from a blank canvas.  Less than 5% of our brain’s work takes place in the conscious mind, so in effect we are not nearly as in control as one would presume.

It is possible, however to train (and re-train) your brain to erase certain programs that are in your subconscious, or indeed to create new ones. In the past, Jesuits would take responsibility for children up until the age of 6-7. They would teach them their beliefs and their ways, and eventually return the children to the security of their families. Bizarrely enough, they were spot on in their methodology. Our subconscious mind processes and takes in information from the environment (and those present in it) up until the age of 6, at which point it has collected and created its own set of preprogrammed information. 

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The Molecule Of Life, Part II

Proteins are the molecules that are actively working during reactions. For example, in order for the electron transport chain (ETC) – the third stage of cellular respiration – to flow, a number of specific proteins must be present:

NADH and FADH2 carry the electrons to the protein complexes. Once there, ubiquinone and cytochrome C transport the electrons from complex to complex within the chain. At the end of the ETC, the ATP synthase enzyme is present, whereby it acts for the principal mechanism involved in the production of ATP.

This is one example amongst many. Although perhaps very obvious to all, it is worth reiterating here that respiration would not occur if it weren’t for the proteins involved.

MRS GREN is a way of remembering the seven processes an organism must consistently perform to count as being alive.

                                                         Movement

                                                         Respiration

                                                         Sensitivity

                                                         Growth

                                                         Reproduction

                                                         Excretion

                                                         Nutrition

If we were to look into each one of these processes we would see that, at the core, they all consist of protein activity. Along the same lines, would it be fair to say that the molecule that controls life is in fact the protein and not DNA? Although unconventional and perhaps heretic, it remains a just observation.

Continuing from the above, we know that the way in which proteins work relies on their movement. If a protein is left alone it does not move, so what causes the activity of proteins? It comes down to the signals that they receive and abide by. Well where do these signals come from? The answer, very simply, is the environment. Hold that thought.

The most important statement in biology is named the central dogma. It says that biology begins with DNA, which leads to RNA and finally to the proteins. However, what is ignored in this statement is that the DNA does not control itself. Genes are activated or deactivated as a result of the movement of regulatory proteins. The positioning of these DNA proteins is in turn controlled by environmental influences. So effectively, perhaps the central dogma should be revised to say the following:

Environment > Regulatory Proteins > DNA > RNA > Proteins

The above also erases a particular argument against the protein as the molecule that controls life. One might say that in order for the protein to be present and a reaction to be carried out, the protein must first be made by the DNA (example of a reference to the central dogma). However, to this I say the following: If part of a DNA strand needs to make a certain protein, it will be able to do so thanks to the movement of the regulatory proteins (see previous paragraph).

So where does this take us?

We have devalued the importance of the DNA as the molecule that controls life.

We have disproved the myth that the “brain” of the cell is the nucleus, and have concluded that it is in fact the cell surface membrane.

We have brought attention to the protein, and stated its crucial role in living processes and hence, in life.

We have considered the activation of the protein, as we know that when undisturbed, it remains latent.

We have reiterated that the protein is in action only when triggered by a signal.

We have considered the origin of these signals, which ultimately, is the environment. This not only encompasses messages transmitted by the brain, but also those put in place by the environment: the fields, messages and molecules that are always present around us.

These concepts spur questions that unfortunately cannot all be discussed in this article, but please do not hesitate to ask. I also strongly recommend that you look up Professor Bruce Lipton, whose knowledge, studies and thoughts are what led me to write this article. 

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The Molecule Of Life, Part I

Many people live under the false pretext that life on Earth comes down to the presence of the nucleus and its DNA. If we were to abide by this assumption, we would presume that an enucleate cell (lacking a nucleus) would not be able to function as it does normally. However, this is not the case. Experiments were performed whereby the nucleus of a cell was removed in order to see what would happen. The cell not only survived but also continued to carry out its normal living functions and processes. So the brain of the cell had to be present elsewhere.

Now consider humans. Without our brains we die. This leads us to question what it is exactly that the brain does to keep us alive. Well, it assesses our surroundings, taking in environmental information and transforming this data into signals that can be understood and acted upon in the body. It is also potent in its omission of some environmental signals as well as with the emission of messages sent by the body. Does the brain’s function sound familiar? Think back to GCSE biology, and the role of the cell membrane: “The cell membrane controls the movement of substances into and out of the cell”. So essentially, the human brain has the same role as the cell surface membrane.

This links back to one of my previous articles on the impact of genetics versus that of epigenetics. Naturally, the genetics of a cell comes from its DNA information in the nucleus. The influences of the environment, however, enter the cell via the cell surface membrane. Does that not validate the importance of epigenetics over that of genetics, now that we have established that the cellular brain is in fact the plasma membrane and not the nucleus?

Let’s now go back to the title – the molecule of life. What is it that triggers life processes to occur? And once the occurrence of a reaction has been triggered, what is it that enables the process to be carried out? Surely not the DNA as it does not leaves the nucleus, and we well know that reactions do not occur in the nucleus of the cell. Rather, they occur in the cytoplasm, where hundreds of proteins are present.

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Will the Chytrid Fungus Kill All Our Frogs?

Scientists in Australia first discovered the chytrid fungus – scientifically referred to as Chytridiomycosis dendrobatitis – in the late 1970’s. However it is believed to have first occurred in Africa.

The chytrid fungus enters the amphibian’s body through the skin where it begins to multiply and spread in the middle layers. This becomes an increasing problem for the frog, as it breathes and drinks through its skin. In order to combat the fungus, the frog produces more skin cells. However, this only allows the fungus to spread further and the skin to thicken. The frog loses its ability to breath and drink, causing it to become weaker and eventually die of suffocation.

As a result of this chytrid fungus, 120 of Central America’s amphibian species have become extinct since 1980, with many more in grave danger at present.

So what can be done in order to stop the extinction of many more amphibian species? Veterinarians and researchers are ensuring that infected species around the world are being taken in under care. The fungus is then eradicated from their bodies, as this is possible to do in a controlled environment. The species are taken into zoos. However this poses another problem. Frogs and amphibians cannot continue to live in zoos permanently. Their natural habitat is the wild and our hope is that someday they may be released back into the wild with no worry that the fungus will attack again. But how to stop the chytrid fungus? Scientists need to find a way of completely eradicating it from the wild. Alternatively, a breeding program (selective breeding) could be put into place, whereby the frogs would not only become resistant to the fungus, but also reproduce to enlarge the number of individuals in their species back to their original size.

A Panamanian Golden Frog

In Panama, the Golden Frog is under threat. Thankfully, measures are being taken: the frogs are being put under quarantine and then into an enclosed space referred to as the “clean room”. In this room they are rid of the fungus, fed and looked after. Space is limited, hence why they are providing the frogs with a new space in one of Panama’s zoos. This is just one example of the amphibian crises that are occurring and being dealt with as a result of the chytrid fungus.

Personally, I believe that although this is a worrying issue at the moment, it is something that can be managed and eventually resolved. How long the process will take I cannot say, however the surveillance and care of the endangered species is already a big step forward. The next, as mentioned earlier, is to find a solution, which will allow these frogs and other amphibians to be released back into the wild without risk of infection and extinction once more.

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Are We Losing The Fight Against Superbugs?

First of all, let us define the word ‘superbug’. More scientifically known as multi-resistant bacteria, superbugs are bacteria that contain several resistance genes. These genes can code either for enzymes which destroy or alter the antibiotic, or for the production of the efflux pump which can transport antibiotic compounds out of the cell. The genes tend to be found in the plasmids (rings of DNA) in the bacterial cells. This makes it easier for lateral gene transfer to occur, whereby genes have the ability to jump from species to species within the bacterial kingdom, and is one of the reasons that superbugs arise in the first place. Lateral gene transfer takes place via three different mechanisms: conjugation, transformation, and transduction. However, we shall not go into the details, as they do not concern us. It also allows antibiotic resistant genes to spread at an alarmingly fast rate, making it hard for scientists and researchers to find the appropriate drugs to kill off the bacteria quickly enough.

A specific type of bacteria will have many different strains, each carrying very subtle genetic mutations. This makes some of them more resistant to an antibiotic than others, and hence natural selective breeding between the bacterial colonies in the infected organism occurs, leading to increased germ resistance. This concept is known as survival of the fittest (one of the basic principles of Darwinian evolution). For example, if MRSA was present in a patient, and the patient was treated with the penicillin antibiotic, some of the bacteria would be destroyed, while other strains would be more able to cope with the drug and create resistance to it. These strains would then reproduce and spread, so that a new antibiotic would be needed in order to kill the bacterium.

The problem nowadays is that antibiotics are being overused and prescribed without being needed. This is as a result of the majority of the public who are under the false impression that all viral infections should be treated with antibiotics. Some doctors who feel they do not have the time to explain why and how it would not help may just prescribe it to the patient despite the consequences. So what are the consequences? In what way could a useless antibiotic prescription be harmful and potentially dangerous? Well, instead of killing off the bacteria present in the organism, the antibiotic would be solely helping it become resistant, in many cases leading to the development of the infamous superbugs. Day-to-day commodities such as antibacterial hand wash are essentially doing the same thing and making it more difficult for us to win this so-called fight against multi-resistant bacteria.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 10 million people die each year as a result of antibiotics that no longer work. 10 years ago, the pneumococcus bacterium – the cause of most cases of pneumonia, meningitis and ear infections – could be treated using any of 10 antibiotics. Nowadays, 1 or 2 of these antibiotics is left fully functioning. Even more recent, NDM-1 bacteria – a new superbug – is becoming of increasing concern. Even though there have only been 50 cases in the UK, scientists fear that it will become global. Why? NDM-1 bacteria carry a gene, which encodes an enzyme called NDM-1. This enzyme can fight and destroy the antibiotic(s) working against it, making it resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics (namely carbapenems). It can exist inside different bacteria, and so we fear that lateral gene transfer will occur. Consequently, this would allow bacteria that are already resistant to certain antibiotics to carry the gene for NDM-1 enzyme. In other words, the antibiotics that could be effective against these NDM-1 superbugs would decrease hugely as the gene spread and more NDM-1 bacterial communities formed.

So, are we losing the fight against superbugs? Well, as it is today, our only solution to the problem also seems to be one of its principal causes – antibiotics. Although their aim is essentially to fight the infection and kill off the bacteria, they are also unintentionally strengthening the resistance of many bacterial communities. To make matters worse, bacterial genes are constantly mutating, creating many different strains of just one type of bacterium. Not only does this mean that different antibiotics are needed for different strains, this also means that the naturally more resistant strains will survive the antibiotic course, thereby spreading and reproducing. And once the antibiotic made to fight off that particular strain has been put into practise, yet another strain may have been produced as a result of these subtle genetic mutations. Lastly, as you might already know, bacteria love to divide and replicate, and are very efficient at doing so. They can double their numbers in just 20 minutes. Meanwhile, lateral gene transfer may be occurring and causing other types of bacteria to become a threat too.

We are trapped in a vicious cycle, which at present, does not seem to be coming to an end.

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Epigenetics vs. Genetics

Epi – meaning over/above – genetics is the study of factors that affect DNA blueprint and gene expression, other than changes in the DNA sequence. The science of genes (genetics) is completely disregarded in epigenetics.

People tend to think that we are born with a concrete and unchanging DNA blueprint. This is untrue. Scientists and epigenesists have shown us, through experiments, that mechanisms other than those within the DNA sequence (known as epigenetics) will affect the activity of a gene and override some of the principles of genetics. For example – put simply – that our genes determine our physiology and chemical behavior.

Consider the following experiment:

The agouti mouse has a specific gene, which sources the reason for the mouse’s yellow fur and its obesity. Agouti mice are therefore very prone to diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This particular gene is passed onto future generations through reproduction, and therefore so are the agouti mouse’s traits. Hence, all agouti mice will have yellow fur and be obese.

The above represents the conclusion drawn from geneticists.

However, mechanisms such as methylation[1] can cause gene suppression, without altering the underlying DNA sequence. They do this by changing the positioning of regulator proteins[2] on the DNA, and can consequently activate or deactivate genes in the DNA strand. From the viewpoint of an epigenesist, this would stop the effect of the agouti gene, thereby overruling the genetic ideals involved.

The scientists performing the experiment took two groups of agouti mothers. One group was given methyl-rich supplements; the other was given nothing.

The offspring of the agouti mice that had not been given anything was as expected – yellow fur and overweight. The young of the agouti mice that took the supplement and underwent methylation differed to the other group in physiology and appearance. They had a normal brown coat, and were very lean. Nevertheless the gene responsible for agouti traits had been inherited.

 

This experiment helps to explain and to prove to us how our DNA blueprint is variable and changing, according to environmental factors (sometimes ambiguous). The methyl supplement given to one of the two groups of mothers altered their DNA blueprint, causing the deactivation of the agouti gene. So effectively, yes, the gene was passed on to their offspring, and yes, the offspring also inherited their DNA blueprint. However it was not the original blueprint, and the expected characteristics that usually follow the presence of the gene were not observed.

Humans and mice contain approximately the same number of genes – 24 000. Yet we are far more complex organisms than mice. Therefore, the answer as to why that is cannot lie in the make up and abundance of the genes, but rather what genes inside us are activated that perhaps are not in mice (and vice versa). From this we can draw that genes cannot be the structures that control us; we should focus instead on understanding how they are or aren’t put into play.

On a separate note (relevant nonetheless), the supposed big breakthrough when the two genes responsible for breast cancer (BRCA1 & BRCA2) were discovered proved to be less helpful than we thought – only 5% of breast cancers are hereditary. The other 95% occur as a result of environmentally induced mechanisms involved in epigenetics.


[1] The addition of a methyl-rich supplement to a substrate, or the substitution of an atom by a methyl group. In this case, we are referring to the methylation of DNA.

[2] Regulator proteins are a particular type of protein found on the DNA. When they cover a specific strand of the DNA molecule (a gene), that gene is tightly bound and latent. Methylation causes the shifting of the regulator proteins, thus activating the gene underneath.

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