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Are Textbooks Holding Back Cures for Cancer?

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Researchers Say Modernizing What We Teach About Our Ability To Influence Evolution Can Change How Medicine Is Practiced


OXFORD, England, Aug. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Omissions from Charles Darwin's theory of evolution spawned massive failures in cancer, antibiotics and nutrition – and it's time to rediscover the real Darwin. That's the view of famed Oxford scientist Denis Noble, longtime author on evolutionary change and scientific advisor to the $10 MillionEvolution 2.0 Prize by biotech Natural Code LLC.

Noble challenges long-standing theories claiming evolution is gradual, when studies now show cancer cells evolve in days. "We will never understand cancer until we recognize how tumors adapt on an hourly basis," offers Noble. "But if we show our pre-med students how the human body directs its own evolutions, it will forever transform how they practice medicine."

Researchers are pressing for significant textbook revisions to foundations of biology.

"Students are being taught outdated models," says Noble. "For a century, mainstream science taught fatalism – and insisted we're stuck with whatever genes we inherited. Today we know our bodies are actually in charge of our own evolution; athletes transform the way genes express because exercise causes every cell to function differently – and some of this gets passed on across generations."

Papers by Noble and University of Chicago microbial geneticist James Shapiro, plus a Voices FromOxfordvideo, trace the history of distortions on Darwinism:

Experts insist the science of epigenetics now illustrates how impressive high-speed evolution takes place alongside slower, gradual alterations. "Our life experiences  impact evolution from one generation to the next," explains John Torday, Professor of Evolutionary Medicine at UCLA.  "A smoking grandmother alters the way DNA gets read without changing the genes themselves, and passes asthma to her granddaughter.  We need to do a better job teaching this."

"Cancer cells resist radiation and chemotherapy via remarkable built-in evolutionary toolkits," says Columbia University oncologist Azra Raza, author of The First Cell. "They respond to threats at tremendous speed. It's time for textbooks to report this, so it factors into patient treatment."

A conversation with Noble is at Denis Noble Q&A

Natural Code is a private Investment group sponsoring the largest award in basic science history.

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