Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Darwinian Medicine

It just seemed to happen, always beyond our control
The starvation and predation, the trauma and gore….
Infections were few because our numbers were small
But whatever we did seemed not to matter at all

The stage had been set, the script was written
And it took us nine months to replace the young, smitten
not by disease or wars waging within,
But by the restrictions that made us most likely to win

Our brain was large but took nine months to grow
And this meant that maturity would be late, would be slow
So we learned to adapt, to create a safe niche

In the caves where warmth and shelter were found
We learned to make weapons and fence areas around
To grow plants and train dogs, breed cattle and sheep
A haven for growth, a safe place to sleep

A safe place for us but our enemies too
For the soft-wired microbes that grew as we grew
They mutated quickly and we were their host
A survival battle that we all but lost

But we rallied our hormones our genes and our cells
And through complex cell circuits we tried to stay well
and use feedbacks and loops to continually keep pace
And hold on to survival in nature’s arms-race

The price of survival was our disciplined expression
Of hard wired genes wrapped more for suppression
of mutations and inserts, which cause cancers to grow
But it came at a price which we are beginning to know

The cells which re-generate, grow and renew
Are an increasing risk factor and so became few
We reduced cell plasticity and that is the cost
And we live with the trade-off of what we have lost

Our structured expression our crystallized genes
Can unwind and transform and this it seems …..
Happens with injury when tissue oxygen is low,
accumulates damage and causes cancers to grow

Can organs rebuild without risk of cancer?
Will fish and salamanders give us the answer?
Could the answers lie in our own evolution
Because drugs and silver bullets are a temporary solution

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