Evolutionary biology: medical benefits

Nils
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Evolutionary biology: medical benefits

Dear all,

 

I was wondering if anyone could guide me in the direction of a list of medical advances (in treatments, detection, medication, or else) which can be attributed to evolutionary biology. I know that various chemical/biological tracers used in early cancer detection were discovered through research in evolutionary biology, but I would really benefit from being given a list. Afterall, if people do not "believe" in evolution, it is only fair that they should not benefit from these advances. Right? Wink

 

Kind regards,

 

~Nils 

"Blessed be the absent-minded for they will not notice."


Susan
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Nils wrote: Afterall, if

Nils wrote:

Afterall, if people do not "believe" in evolution, it is only fair that they should not benefit from these advances. Right? Wink

Oh I agree.  It's like the debate about stem-cell research.

I believe that those that are against stem-cell research (and think it should be outlawed) should stick to their morals and ethics and refuse any treatment that comes from that research. 

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LeftofLarry
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One thing we have to

One thing we have to understand about science in general is that it builds upon itself.  It's not like we study evolutionary biology and we find medical benefits.  Evolutionary biology helps us understand how organisms change over time, which leads us to also understand how disease and pathogens work.  For example, antibiotic resistance in bacteria and other pathogens is and evolutionary adaptation of bacteria to survive antibiotics.  We would not understand this if we didn't know how selective pressures act on organisms.  I can give you another example,

The parasite responsible for causing malaria has adapted evolutionary to be specific to certain species.  It has speciated to be very specific on the species it invades.  I study Plasmodium falciparum, which is specific to humans. This is because it has evolved invasion mechanisms that recognize only human proteins on human blood cells.  There are other species of plasmodium that invade human blood cells, but they too recognize differnet proteins on the surface of red blood cells and as a matter of fact, in areas where these parasites are most common, humans are developing resistance to these parasites due to the fact that these parasites act as selective pressures and there are humans that are refractile to Plasmodium vivax malaria because they lack the blood cell protein that this parasite needs to invade.  

This is an example on how evolutionary biology helps us understand diseases and pathogens.   

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