Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Infections have made their mark on the Human Genome

In the context of Precision Medicine, infections draw our attention because they have played an important role in the evolution of the eukaryotic genome. Over the next few blog posts, we will explore the following:

  • A significant portion of the human genome consists of relic DNA derived from ancient invasive organisms.
  • Some of the key steps in the development of vertebrate animals, and mammals in particular, have come from DNA acquired from infectious organisms.
  • A good portion of the genes in humans (perhaps 10%) are involved in responses to infectious organisms.
  • Most of the cells in the human (at least 90%) consist of infectious organisms and commensals that have adapted to life within human hosts. [Glossary Commensal]
  • Normal defenses can block every infectious disease. Hence, every infectious disease results from a failure of our normal defenses, immunologic and otherwise.
  • Cellular defects that have no direct connection to immunity may increase susceptibility to infectious organisms.
  • By dissecting the biological steps involved in the pathogenesis of infectious disease, it is possible to develop new treatments, other than antibiotics, that will be effective against a range of related organisms.
Over the next few blogs, we'll do our best to justify each of these (as yet) unproven assertions.

- Jules Berman

key words: precision medicine, infections, evolution, resistance to infection, jules j berman Ph.D., M.D.

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