While Matt Ridley’s ponderings of evolutionary biology are interesting, he fails to include the pack of elephants in the room (Dirtier Lives May Be Just the Medicine We Need). The microbial disease paradigm shifted years ago in all the life sciences, with the unfortunate exception of medicine. All other life sciences have embraced a unifying knowledge of microscopic communities existing within nature, man and beast. Despite intellectual schisms between fields, these truisms have fostered medical innovations including molecular diagnostics and vastly improved treatments in woundcare, dental, orthopedic, ENT and other specialty areas.
While mankind has conquered many acute diseases employing Koch’s postulates of “one bug, one disease” doctrine, microbes of infinite variety thrived and evolved in biofilm communities. Decades later, we now face the consequences of our stubbornness to accept biology 101.
All kinds of tiny lives co-exist within slimy, protected microbial communities: the “good” commensal bugs and “bad” pathogenic bugs that cause junky, chronic diseases. This is one reason why our human DNA is so “messy” (Junk DNA’ Debunked, Studies Find Human Genomic Makeup Is Vastly Messier; New Disease Links Seen).
Indeed, certain forms of life do keep pathogenic bugs in check that cause disease; commensal bacteria, certain parasites and never-ending numbers of bacteriophages to name a few. But this is an incomplete and oblique observation of what is confounding doctors, ailing patients and costing Medicare billions of dollars.
We patients, doctors and policymakers can help reduce human suffering, foster innovation, boost the economy and make the world a better place. But we must embrace the truisms of biology 101: microbes live together in protected communities. The sciences born from that knowledge have been available for decades.
Richard J. Longland
Producer, Why Am I Still Sick?
Founder, The Arthroplasty Patient Foundation