Gic Chic
Monday, October 11, 2004
Superhuman Superorganisms
In the course of information absorption, I come across "amazing discoveries" that leave me rather nonplussed. This is in no way a diminishing of the accomplishment of the researchers involved, as this is often nothing more than the result of my relative distance from the subject under consideration. Having long ago made a similar (though unstudied) conclusion, my thoughts have moved on to areas of more immediate interest.

One such discovery is covered somewhat loosely in the Wired magazine site's story titled People Are Human-Bacteria Hybrid. An intriguing title, to be sure-- more eye catching than The Challenges of Modeling Mammalian Biocomplexity title of the original article. The discovery outlined in the article is the impact of the fact that the number of human cells in our body is dramatically outnumbered by the number of microbial cells. Consideration of this commensal (wired word) or symbiotic (tired word?) relationship has significant consequences in a number of fields. The example most telling to me is the field of pharmacology.

Armed with this knowledge, researchers have an additional criteria by which to measure pharmacological properties such as metabolism, efficacy, and toxicity. This promises significantly improved understanding, and therefore modeling, of these interactions. In turn, this should lead to the ability to create more effective medications, and to predict more effectively potential side effects, based on (yet-to-be-developed?) tests of a patient's "superorganic composition".

Intriguing, to be sure. Good, for a fact. Surprising, not at all. But that's the advantage of being a sideliner in any game. The ability to observe the obvious nature of a discovery based on the ability to make sweeping judgments rather than the need to make informed decisions is amazingly cathartic.

As is often the case in these blogs, that last statement is charged with innuendo. Indeed, one might even say that it is central to a major area of investigation being undertaken right now by various Aesthesis team members. Unfortunately, aside from an intriguing but uninformative reference, there is little more to say at this time. It is my hope that at some point I will be able to post more information on this exciting area of research. Until that time, at least I have planted the seed.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger