Germs!

This is one of those stories that could be big or it could be a nonsense. The nonsense part is easy. Most medical research is poorly reported by the media. The men and women working at these sites simply lack the IQ to understand the material so they let the researchers write their copy for them. Studies are sent to the media with an executive summary designed for people in the press. It is cut and pasted into a “news” story.

The result is a lot of scientific nonsense makes it to the public, but not all of it is bunk. In this case, there’s a growing speculation that germs may play a much bigger role in human health, with regards to issues like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer disease.

The “seeds” of Alzheimer’s disease may be transmitted from one person to another during certain medical procedures, scientists have found.

A study into people who died of a separate kind of brain disease after receiving injections of human growth hormone suggests that Alzheimer’s may also be a transmissible disease.

The findings have raised questions about the safety of some medical procedures, possibly including blood transfusions and invasive dental treatment, which may involve the transfer of contaminated tissues or surgical equipment.

The investigation has shown for the first time in humans that Alzheimer’s disease may be a transmissible infection which could be inadvertently passed between people.

Scientists emphasised that the new evidence is still preliminary and should not stop anyone from having surgery. They have also stressed that it is not possible to “catch” Alzheimer’s by living with someone with the disease.

However, the findings of a study into eight people who were given growth hormone injections when they were children have raised the disturbing possibility that Alzheimer’s can be transmitted under certain circumstances when infected tissues or surgical instruments are passed between individuals.

Alzheimer disease does not fit well with our understanding of the genome and evolution. What’s known about the disease, and it is quite a lot now, suggests it should strike people of all ages, not just the very old. The most common gene associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is called apolipoprotein E (APOE). The one form of this gene with the highest correlation to the disease is APOE e4, but having two copies of this gene, one from each parent, does not mean you get the disease. In other words, the correlation is weak.

There are other genes associated with the disease, as we see with many other diseases that turn up in old age. The number of factors associated with the incidence can be quite large. On the other hand, the genome has revealed some interesting associations. Heart disease is the one of the better example as it can be mapped. This map is a great example of how genetics and disease fit together:

If science is beginning to link  a disease like Alzheimer’s to a pathoigen, to use shorthand, it changes the way medicine attacks these diseases. In other words, if exposure to a pathogen triggers certain gene combinations, resulting in the production of a bad protein, science can better predict, but also better treat these diseases. Put another way, genetically linked disorders could still be treated, just at the pathogen level.

Where it can get revolutionary and scary is in the area of human behavior. Homosexuality remains a great scientific mystery. No one knows why some steady percentage of males are homosexual. Genetics could never be the answer as a gay gene would rarely be passed along to the off-spring, since homosexuals have far fewer off-spring. Basic math says the gay gene would have died out long ago. Here’s a nice Jayman post on the topic.

The gay germ theory is controversial as is everything to do with homosexuals, but the implications are not insignificant. If pathogens trigger behavioral traits, then it means behavior could, in theory, be modified medically. Curing things like homosexuality, alcoholism, or simply being a douche bag are suddenly not so far fetched.

No one reading this will live to see the day when you can take a pill for you homosexuality or unpleasant disposition. We’re not going to see the day when genes are altered in order to eliminate disorders. Some alive today will see treatments for common maladies of old age that will allow for more vigorous lives and even longer lives. Curing Alzheimer’s is not that far off. That alone will radically alter a lot of lives.

It’s not all bad news.

10 thoughts on “Germs!

  1. At least 1 way for homosexuality to be genetic and never take over or die out. Find a gene or combo that increases libido, and sensitizes to male arousal signals. Turn this on. Women with this make more babies. Men have higher sex drives, some tip to homosexuality. Homosexuals never dominant, more than outweighed by more babies overall. Evolution sez: good trade.

  2. Interesting stuff about Alzheimers here. I have a relative who has dementia and she drinks wine and comes from a part of the UK with the lowest incidence of the condition (I won’t say disease because it isn’t proven yet) and also for a time lived in Cyprus. On paper she shouldn’t be qualifying for being so scatty but it appears whatever causes it in her has somehow ignored the facts.

  3. Makes sense to me. If emotional trauma is now something you can pass on genetically, then the sky’s the limit, really.

    I’m currently on SS disability because my great-great grandfather suffered hardship during the Irish potato famine and he passed that down to me. It’s terribly debilitating for me to hear about how bad it was back then. So much so that I cant really function in a work environment. I just get so bummed out I cant work. Don’t even get me started on my Gay great-great-great-great-great grand uncle and his horrible experience during the 30 years war. Quite frankly it’s pretty amazing I can get up to even pick up my SS checks.

  4. Speaking of germs, at this point i believe those liberals do-gooders must be infected with toxoplasma gondii, the parasite known to remove a rodents innate fear of cats:

    “When a healthy rat smells a cat, it flees. But rats infected with the Toxoplasma brain parasite actually follow cat odors, often presumably to their doom, red in tooth and claw. That Toxo-infected rats approach cats has long been a well-known example of a parasite manipulating the behavior of its mammalian host.”

    When i see my fellow countrymen welcoming boatloads of military age muslim men with open arms, i think toxoplasmosis

    Because otherwise it only leaves total, complete and utter Insanity.

  5. If I am reading the map correctly, it shows that incidences of heart disease are much lower in the Mediterranean countries of Italy, France and Spain. Researchers have claimed for years that the lower rates of heart disease in this area of the world are attributed to the so-called “Mediterranean Diet” with lots of veggies, fruits, olive oil and fish. So are you saying that science is now examining the possibility that nature (i.e. genetics) plays a larger role in heart disease than does nurture (i.e. diet and lifestyle)? My doctor suggested I consider taking a statin as a preventative measure against a heart attack but I told him (in a very subtle way) thanks, but no thanks. I’ll put that decision off as long as possible. I don’t want the side effects that go along with taking statins, which are well documented. And, as a bonus, my grandparents all came from Southern Italy!

  6. It seems like low-stress, wine Europe is green, mid-stress, beer Europe is yellow/orange and hard-life, hard-liquor Europe is red.

    I imagine Russia and the Ukraine are very red.

  7. This theory is not new. I read a book 15 years ago that really got me thinking about current theories and “accepted” knowledge in the world of health and medicine. The author posits, what if everyone is barking up the wrong tree? He didn’t say so in those words, but he lays out a very convincing case for viruses and bacteria being the true causes of most of the diseases we currently think of as inherited by genes, or lifestyle choices, or random bad luck. Not sure how the book has “aged” in light of recent research and advances, but certainly worth a look. “Plague Time: How Stealth Infections Cause Cancer, Heart Disease, and Other Deadly Ailments” by Paul W. Ewald

    • Dr. Ewald’s ideas are not without controversy, but he is part of larger group of other researchers in the emerging (but still non-mainstream) field of Darwinian Medicine. Although it’s older than “Plague Time” by a few years, you, Kathleen, might enjoy reading “Why We Get Sick” by Nesse and Williams (1995), which I thought did a fine job of laying out the basic ideas of Darwinian Medicine. Dr. Ewald has continued to support the idea that many of the diseases which medicine has historically attributed to lifestyle or hereditary factors are actually caused, at least in part, by infectious agents. When I took his class, “The Evolutionary Ecology of Disease” at the Univ. of Louisville back in 2013, Dr. Ewald was assigning both “Plague Time” and “Why We Get Sick” as required reading for that class.

      • Thank you No King, for the recommendation of “Why We Get Sick”. Will have to check it out. That’s great you were able to actually take a class from Ewald. I really love books about infectious diseases, I think partly because of the ways in which these diseases have altered human history, for better or worse. I am currently reading “10% Human: How Your Body’s Mocrobes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness” by Alanna Collen. It’s definitely layperson stuff, not meant for scientists, but interesting nonetheless. It discusses past and present germ theory and posits new theories about the role that our gut biome plays in our genetic makeup and our health, including those diseases/conditions which we still consider “lifestyle”, such as obesity. Fascinating stuff!

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