Why it's a real revolution in biology and genetics
by Irwin D. Bross, PhD
The human genome projects have produced a revolution in human genetics with their first major finding: There are about 30,000 human genes. While at first this did not seem world-shaking, it gradually made three points clear:
1. Gene scientists have played God but done a terrible job of it. They were dead wrong about the evolutionary strategy for the creation of living organisms-- including human beings. Their elitism and anthropomorphism have saddled biology with a whole series of false doctrines that students will have to unlearn. For instance, it has long been thought that each gene contained the instructions for one protein, and therefore the genome search would turn up more than 100,000 human genes (with 100,000 corresponding proteins). Now we have to admit that the low number of human genes and their lack of uniqueness has opened up new possibilities. A single gene might be used by a cell to make several proteins, perhaps by modifying the protein after it's made. The dogmatism of gene scientists has prevented serious study (or even serious consideration) of the how human proteins are manufactured.
2. It is now clear that those "scientists" who got media coverage for several years by claiming that once the human genome map was finished, biotechnology could prevent or cure all of the human diseases were (a) totally stupid or (b) were deliberately raising false hopes in the American public as a ploy for grantsmanship. Only now is it possible for Stanley Fields, a geneticist at the University of Washington to say this: ''Deciphering how even [10 million] nucleotides [DNA building blocks] results in a yeast cell - let alone how
[3 billion] nucleotides results in Tiger Woods or Britney Spears - only begins with studying the genes and proteins individually. Understanding how all of these proteins collaborate to carry out cellular processes is the real enterprise at hand.'' This is not what those who worship at the altars of biotechnology have been saying (e.g., We will be turning out wonder drugs for all human diseases tomorrow).
3. What medical progress can be made during the several decades of basic research that will be required to replace the false theories by valid ones? The false prophets urge rushing into the "rude empiric" human experiments promoted by biotechnology. The 30,000 genes suggest that we should be doing clinical studies of diseases like human leukemia to develop deep mathematical models, validated by the clinical data, that could bridge the current gap between basic protein chemistry and the events recorded in computerized medical records. As a start, a mathematical model which explains the cyclic patterns in the blood of patients with this disease was created by Leslie Blumenson and me three decades ago. When we understand the processes in leukemia, we will have a much better chance of curing it.
In sum, the first major finding of human genome projects has already destroyed false theories that have blocked genuine scientific research in medicine and biology. Good riddance. If science returns to the real world for its inspiration, we can get rid of the hype and exaggerated claims "in the Name of Science". This kind of quackery has denied the American public-and especially patients with chronic disease-the benefits of genuine scientific medical research.
Dr Irwin D Bross is the president of
Biomedical Metatechnology, Inc.
109 Maynard Drive
Amherst NY 14226
The Civil Abolitionist