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Of Genes, Chimps and Men

Majid Ali, M.D.

We humans have much to be humble about. This is the lesson chimps teach us. After reading this short article, the reader may wish to read my two other articles posted on Internet and entitled " Chatty Chimps, Chirpy Chimplets, and Old Chuckling Chimp" and "A Withering Species Breeds Mutants- Part 2 of Chatty Chimps, Chirpy Chimplets, and Old Chuckling Chimp."

There are approximately 20,000 genes in human cells. It has been proposed that each gene interacts with four or five others on the average.39,40 that were true, a human would have not been much different from a mouse. Since human biologic sophistication cannot be explained simply by figuring out the number of genes in the human genome, what else must we considered? I hold that the answer to that question has something to do with complementarity and contrariety of genes. My view is that the complexities of homeostasis as well as redox, enzymatic, and immune defenses arise from the way genes speak and act—read, sense and respond —to their changing microecologic conditions. Gene expressions are individually and finely regulated to be integrated with the whole and reflect the changing needs of the organism in its entirety.

A chimpanzee is over 99% human, a monkey only slightly less so. The place of humans in the hierarchy of the creation is something for the clergy to ascertain. But for a student of biology, the fascinating question is this: What makes us human? How do genes create love for music and painting? And for writing? At a more basic level, how do genes generate the need to understand oneself? It seems safe to conclude that humans are more than the sum of their genes. In competitive struggle and survival of the fitter, Darwin saw "grandeur in this view of life." Perhaps there is a greater grandeur in self-organization of genes and their products under the organizing influence of some higher Presence. (Ah, the helplessness of an observer of nature striving not to intrude on the territory of the clergy!)

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* Re-Thinking DNA

* Intelligent language of Genes

* Junk DNA or Treasure trove

* Genes Know Their Neighbors

* A Story of Interleukins and Tumor Necrosis Factor

* Genes and Aging

* Of Genes, Chimps, and Men

 

 

 

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