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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Now we comment an article appeared in the NYT, because it faced fundamental problems of biological investigation: everything and its parts, determinism against undeterminism. Almost all recent biomedical investigation, sinks its roots in the deterministic study of the parts. To study the brain -for example- the human being has not found better method to study it that by parts, step by step : a nerve and their function here, a gene related with the vision and their function over there, etc and at the end the final associations, tending to explain the function at all, completely. Epistemologists and philosophers of the science, of another side, have always tried to study (to understand), the brain (or other organ), like an everything, more than for its parts. They estimate ridiculous, to extract conclusions from the study of isolated parts. They even consider possible to study the everything and to contrast the results with other everythings. Being the everything more than the sum of parts, it should have emergent properties non perceived in isolated parts. Although studying the functions of a single gene, certain knowledge is acquired; the integrated everything (genome), sure doesn't have the added functions of isolated genes. A genome, able to generate such a complex organism as the human being has to act in coordinated form with all and each one of its genes. A scientific consortium (United States National Human Genome Research Institute + 35 groups belonging to 80 organizations from all over the world), has just arrived to similar conclusions: The human genome is not an orderly collection of independent genes, with each sequence of DNA, bound to a single function, that’s to say : predisposition to diabetes or a cardiac illness).

The consortium postulates but well that genes interact closely among them, by means of complex nets. That is to say, although somebody has genes inclined to diabetes development, he could not develop the illness if the full genome is influenced by other factors (environmental, dietary or other), cancelers of deleterious effects of these illnesses. These concepts are important because much of current biotechnology works on the base of 1 gene/1 function. Since 1960 it is accepted that a gene that produce a protein type, will produce a quasi similar protein in another organism. This way, the industry has created, patented and defined the industrial gene, like one “that sells and is effective”, says Jack Heinemann, professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In USA, the Patent and Trademark Office allows that new genes be patented on the base of this definition : “orderly sequence of DNA that codes a specific functional product". If each gene is functionally independent -self-questioned the article’s author : could it be a dispute object when somebody implies it for collateral damage, because gene net’s effect?. The processes of genetic engineering and patents that are defined in terms of genes that act in an independent way, begin to be questioned.



Blogger Israel Barrantes said...

You said: "These concepts are important because much of current biotechnology works on the base of 1 gene/1 function"

I don't know which molecular biology journal you're reading, man, but one thing is for sure: Nobody's using the Tatum one gene/one phenotype model as a start for any research effort since the early eighties. Try any paper from NAR, for example, and you won't find single gene theories but genetic networks (Or maybe you ignore that microarrays, a technology developed in the mid-90s, change that all completely?)

With best regards.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Victor Z. Mechán Mendez said...

Please, read several articles that (to this respect), appeared last month in NYT. They appear also in my article (click coloured phrases). For sure you are not well connected with last news. vmm

9:02 AM  
Blogger Israel Barrantes said...

Sure It seems that you really don't know that the NYT is not a science journal. As if journalists could talk seriously about science! Now i'm sure that you're not a scientist either.

With best regards.

10:49 PM  
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1:44 AM  

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