cautionWarning: this post may contain a hazardous amount of science. Peter Duesberg, a molecular and cell biology professor here at UC Berkeley, and his colleagues have come out with a theory that cancer is the evolution of a new species. Duesberg said that cancer is a parasite: it relies on its host for nourishment, but is otherwise an independent organism that is most likely doing damage to the host.

Duesberg’s argument isn’t exactly groundbreaking, as early forms of the idea can be traced back to the late 20th century. According to him, the prevailing theory of cancer as genes that mutate and trigger unstoppable growth in a cell, is false. He proposes that cancer is actually when chromosomes are disrupted, ultimately leading to damage that affects the balance of genes.

The good thing about this theory is that it could lead to new ways of thinking about cures and the like. The theory is of course a lot more detailed and intelligent-sounding than this, but hopefully this simplified version wasn’t too much for those of us who aren’t exactly amazing at science.

Image Source: s_jelan under Creative Commons
Are cancers newly evolved species? [UC Berkeley News Center]

Kyle said:
Jul 28, 2011 at 9:11 am

Here’s an even more depressing note: Peter Duesberg is an AIDS denialist and an embarrassment to the university. He advised former South African president Thabo Mbeki to oppose the treatment of pregnant HIV-positive South African women with antiretroviral medication. From Wikipedia, “Two independent studies have concluded that the public health policies of Thabo Mbeki’s government, shaped in part by Duesberg’s writings and advice, were responsible for over 330,000 excess AIDS deaths and many preventable infections, including those of infants.” It’s interesting that you won’t find Duesberg’s role in these deaths mentioned in the official UC Berkeley press release, isn’t it?

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