Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Biology "Duh!" moments

Warning: Each of the following has a risk of being tainted with my confirmation/hindsight bias. But read them anyway.

The first one (Informed Reader, B4, third item, subscription required) isn't quite a "Duh!" moment; rather, it's just an interesting piece of information. The discovery? Naked mole rats produce less of Substance P (a chemical that causes humans and other organisms to perceive severe pain) than hairy ones. This surprised the scientists somewhat, especially since the rats are quite sensitive to other forms of touch; apparently, Substance P release is linked to chili peppers and acid, among other things. I'll be watching this for more future development.

Here's the second one (D9, subscription required, from Reuters). You've likely all heard of Tamiflu, a new-ish drug developed to treat influenza, especially bird flu. Well, due no doubt to microevolution, it has likely become partially resistant to the drug. This is expected because viruses tend to mutate fairly rapidly, even though they are only complex collections of chemicals.

And here's the third one (D5, subscription required, by Avery Johnson). Pfizer is reformulating one of its existing drugs to try to prevent HIV. Yes, prevent. Apparently, this area of pharmacy has been "littered with disappointments" because of the virus's extraordinarily fast mutation rate. Selzentry is the name of this new medication; it works "by blocking the virus from infecting healthy cells, [which] could make it more appropriate for prevention than medicines that prevent already-diseased cells from replicating."

Now, class, what's the single best way to prevent a disease? Abstinence (gasp!) from infected individuals and materials? Surely you jest! Non-conservative readers, please tell me what's so hard and unscientific about this hopefully-commonsense suggestion.

3 comments:

WomanHonorThyself said...

abstinence!..why didnt we think of that Hannah..LOL

GM Roper said...

OMG... if you have Angel as a reader, I know I've died and gone to heaven. :-)

About the post... there is NO commonsense among progressives. That is what makes them progressive. Either that or they lack Substance P and can't feel rational beings pain.

Hannah J said...

You're quite dead then, GMR. ;p

"there is NO commonsense among progressives. That is what makes them progressive. Either that or they lack Substance P and can't feel rational beings pain."

Well, THAT certainly explains the truth of the hypothesis that everything, including biology, has become politicized. LOL