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Posts Tagged ‘Genetics’

Heng, et al recently published a review paper that brings together and touches on many different aspects of cancer complexity.  I thought this an opportunity to selectively quote the paper and organize the quotes loosely around various complex systems concepts they relate to.  I’m curious whether this makes sense to readers of this blog, or whether there’s too much unexplained jargon and too many large conceptual leaps.  Please ask questions or make comments freely below.

One preface I think will help is to understand that genome, karyotype and chromosome refer roughly to the same thing.  Here are several schematics that I will present without explanation that together illustrate how genes relate to genome/karyotype/chromosome structure, and how that in turn relates to the so-called genetic network (loosely equivalent to the “proteome”).  Of course “gene” is an outdated and inaccurate concept, so don’t get too hung up looking for genes here, just understand that they are sub-structural elements of the genome.

From MSU website

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I happened to come across two interesting posts with Singularity implications that I thought you might be interested in.  First, the Singularity Hub reports that Osiris has a promising phase II trial underway for a treatment that uses foreign stem cells to repair the muscle damage from heart attacks.  If you’re about 40 like Rafe and I, this means your chances of dying from heart disease could go way down.  Now if we can just make some progress on cancer, we’ll be centenarians.

Second, via Prometheus, Wired reports on a robot-software combination that was able to generate, test, and refine it’s own hypotheses to identify coding for orphan enzymes in yeast. Obviously, this is a very special purpose kind of science.  But the fact they got a closed loop is very impressive.  I also like the fact that it’s in the biological sciences. Hey, maybe some descendant of this program can solve the aformentioned cancer problem.

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Debbie Maier asks us on the Upcoming Topics page to address Crohn’s Disease.

I don’t know too much about it except that it’s an autoimmune disease and has a complex, multi-causal etiology and pathology.  In my reading on autoimmune diseases in general there seems to be a direct link between latitude an incidence.   Specifically, the farther from the equator you live the more likely you are to get Crohn’s, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and so on.

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Thanks to Daniel Horowitz for alerting me to third-hand smoke.  I guess then if you pass on epigentic mutations to your children from third-hand smoke exposure it’s called fourth-hand smoke?

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Like does this mean you can cure heart disease?

She’s hesitant.  Nobody wants to say they can defeat the industrialized world’s number one killer.  Nobody wants to make promises about life, or quantify salvation.  But she fervently believes she’s got a shot.

This is what the 2008 Genius edition of Esquire Magazine had to say about Hina Chaudhry.  Her approach is to switch back on the mechanism that causes cells to divide in the heart, which doesn’t normally happen after birth in any mammal.  This is not a stem-cell approach, despite what it might sound like.

Looking on the web there appears to be very little written about this work, so I’m wondering how Esquire found her or chose her work to highlight.  I’d like to learn more if anyone has information they’d like to share.

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Will Wright’s demo of Spore illustrates some key concepts of complex systems, including the notion of simple rules generating complex behaviors, and also the power of recursively applied (i.e. fractal) computation at different levels.  Living systems leverage these same principles.
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As I discussed in Environmental Ideology and the Ascetic Meme, the Ascetic Meme is a severe form of the Frugality Meme. In this post, I’ll explore how I think it arises and the social interactions that emerge when the Ascetic Meme takes hold.

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