Originally posted by WyrdeOne
What role does the human immune system play in all this? I mean, we've got a fantastic defense. It's not iron-clad, but it's damn good at what it does.
If we were meeting this challenge with a nutrient-rich diet, good but not over-the-top hygeine, plenty of clean water and air, wouldn't we stand a better chance?
Sure, lots of people are going to die. People die every day. The folks that don't die are alive for a reason.
Some folks are naturally immune to things that bring the rest of us to our knees. In some cases there's a price to pay (like the relationship between sickle-cell and malaria), but it's the way we've gotten this far.
Presumably there have always been diseases, though never so many, or such potent forms, capable of moving so quickly among populations. But still, can we not have some faith in innate human toughness and resilience?
Originally posted by CultureD
Has anyone considered the Haj- happening RIGHT NOW- with millions of pilgrims from all over the world? 4 people have died already- from garden variety H1N1-
Now- Egypt and China are putting out urgent warnings about H1N1 and H5N1 re-assortment risks- that read (to me, at least), as though they were a fait a compli.......
Sofi- you are correct. This is a perfect storm. Even if the flu just gains virulence, the Eastern Europeans have a terrible time with TB- perfect vectors.
[Hell, even in the US we are having meningitis and measels outbreaks.
The flu doesn't need to get "too bad" to kill a whole lot of us.
Imagine the havoc that will be induced if the strain(s) mutate in 'the wrong direction"? 1918 will look like a warm-up......
Horizontal gene transfer
* ISS: The direct uptake of foreign genetic material by cells and incorporation into the cells’ genome.
* Wiki: also lateral gene transfer (LGT) or transposition refers to the transfer of genetic material between organisms (by means) other than vertical gene transfer (inheritance).
* USDA: Transmission of DNA between species, involving close contact between the donor's DNA and the recipient, uptake of DNA by the recipient, and stable incorporation of the DNA into the recipient's genome.
* Transformation, the genetic alteration of a cell resulting from the introduction, uptake and expression of foreign genetic material (DNA or RNA). This process is relatively common in bacteria, but less so in eukaryotes. Transformation is often used in laboratories to insert novel genes into bacteria for experiments or for industrial or medical applications. See also molecular biology and biotechnology.
* Transduction, the process in which bacterial DNA is moved from one bacterium to another by a virus (a bacteriophage, or phage).
* Bacterial conjugation, a process in which a bacterial cell transfers genetic material to another cell by cell-to-cell contact.
* Gene transfer agents, virus-like elements encoded by the host … (ie. transposons)
a segment of DNA that can move from one place to another in a cell's genome or between a bacterial cell and a plasmid or virus. Viruses may even carry a transposon from one bacterium to another. Also called jumping gene, transposable element.
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.
With regard to how horizontal gene transfer affects evolutionary theory (common descent, universal phylogenetic tree) Carl Woese says:
"What elevated common descent to doctrinal status almost certainly was the much later discovery of the universality of biochemistry, which was seemingly impossible to explain otherwise. But that was before horizontal gene transfer (HGT), which could offer an alternative explanation for the universality of biochemistry, was recognized as a major part of the evolutionary dynamic. In questioning the doctrine of common descent, one necessarily questions the universal phylogenetic tree. That compelling tree image resides deep in our representation of biology. But the tree is no more than a graphical device; it is not some a priori form that nature imposes upon the evolutionary process. It is not a matter of whether your data are consistent with a tree, but whether tree topology is a useful way to represent your data. Ordinarily it is, of course, but the universal tree is no ordinary tree, and its root no ordinary root. Under conditions of extreme HGT, there is no (organismal) "tree." Evolution is basically reticulate (forming a network)."