Darwinian Medicine Definition Essay
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First Evolution Time Can Be Today's Medicine
Thanks to Darwinian medicine, Medical scientists had a chance to develop and make some changes. New diseases emerging recently and the fight against these diseases change our perspective profoundly. Medical science tries to explain diseases with a mechanical biology approach: The question is based on how this disease occurs. However, it is not the question of how, it is why now (De Carvalho, 2011). Today, with a new understanding, some medical scientists are inspired by the theory of evolution, and are asked the question of 'why' to understand diseases: Why does this disease occur? Why did it not exist in our previous ancestors, but now? Many scientific studies have shown how many diseases depend on human evolution in recent years. Darwinian medicine offers physicians a vital opportunity to use the genomic data to understand and explain the relationships among all organisms. For example, the defense mechanisms developed by ancient people against parasitic diseases in the past cause some of us to be susceptible to today's diseases.
Malaria parasite (Plasmodium vivax) needs a surface protein called Duffy antigen to enter human red blood cells. People living in areas where malaria is widespread (endemic), a change (mutation) has occurred in the Duffy gene, thereby developing immunity to malaria. However, Duffy also acts as a sponge in immune system communication, and if its mutation occurs, the release of a substance (immunoglobulin E) occurs in allergic asthma and other allergic reactions. As a result, asthma disease has been shown to be high in the population with a mutation in the Duffy gene in places where malaria is common, such as Brazil, Colombia, and the Caribbean. In the past, when ancestors changed their genetic structure to protect against malaria, today's people have become sensitive to allergies and asthma. (PMC, 2011) This information emphasizes the importance of looking at Darwin's eyes from asthma and allergic diseases, one of today's common health problems.
I would like to connect this issue with COVID-19, which has now surrounded the world with great speed. As it is known, we are facing an epidemic of Coronavirus that surrounds our world right now, and this type of virus that we have not encountered so far puts our lives in great danger (De Carvalho, 2011). Symptoms of the disease; flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, respiratory distress, and weakness. It can be fatal, especially in the elderly and those with underlying chronic disease, causing severe respiratory failure, kidney failure. However, while there are obvious drugs and strong vaccines we can use against the flu, we have neither medicine nor vaccine against coronaviruses. First of all, this situation raises some questions such as, 'Why now? Was there any similar virus before? '. Corona viruses are a family of viruses known since the 1960s, causing human respiratory and intestinal diseases. When we look at the time line, we see that it is not an old virus.
People who have been able to cope and evolve throughout the evolutionary process of humans have managed to survive and show resistance to the emerging diseases. However, this is a very long process, and, in this case, causes many people to die. Apart from that, many other creatures and organisms like us have the ability to evolve. Viruses, like humans, seek an environment to live in, and try to settle in a body they see suitable and organize it for themselves. Contrary to what is thought, the virus does not attempt to destroy a person's body because it wants to create an environment in which it can live and multiply. However, until the virus adapts itself, it will cause damage to the body that never came across with such a thing before. So, in the end, the weak will be doomed. In this case, the human and the virus seem to be fighting a long-standing survival war. What is essential at this point is whether the virus will evolve as quickly as flu if it is seasonal.
Nevertheless, here we see a noticeable difference of coronaviruses from influenza: Just like in the SARS virus, SARS-CoV-2 has a molecular gene-editing mechanism, and therefore its mutation rates are much lower than flu or HIV. This dramatically reduces the chances of the virus becoming more lethal over time. However, this does not mean that the danger has passed. As a result, as I mentioned before, medicine and vaccine have not yet been found, and we need to be alert to the emergence of a more deadly virus. Even if we adapt to a current situation, we cannot stop encountering coming events that may cause even higher risks. The best way to overcome this type of disease is to examine the environment we live in from the very first times of our evolution and ourselves in the most detailed way. As Darwin advocates, our ancient selves can be the answer to many questions and situations we are facing right now. The place we have come from and the evolutionary periods we have experienced during this time can enable us to recognize our own body and to be ready in the face of threats to emerge. Because if it is accurate and we can finally discover the vaccine as we had expected and vaccinate enough people, we can completely erase this virus from the earth, just like we have managed to repeat in history.
After all, I chose this topic because I thought it was an important part of our existence and a potential for salvation, apart from the situation we are currently facing. I believe that by asking the right questions and clarifying our past will shed great light on our future. Because in this natural selection we live, the strong will survive and the weak will be condemned to death, and like every living thing, human beings need to get stronger to survive.
De Carvalho, G., & De Carvalho, G. (2011). Duffy Blood Group System and the malaria adaptation process in humans.
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