Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No cancer, but at what cost?

Based on a paper published in ScienceTranslationalMedicine by Guevara-Aquirre et al on a group of Ecuadorian dwarfs, Nicholas Wade has a very interesting article in the NY Times on the effects of mutation in the growth hormone receptor (GRH) gene on the development of cancer and diabetes - this mutation essentially eliminates both (see also this paper).  Unfortunately, in addition to dwarfism, these mutations are also associated with childhood mortality, death associated with convulsions, and impaired mental function.  All of which serve to inform us that (as Ray Troll would say), there is apparently, no free lunch.  

At the same time, it is probably worth noting in the light of standard scientific/news hype, that this is a highly isolated population, and that it is likely that genetic variations at other genetic loci, are likely to make important contribution - things are likely to become more complex.  This could be, yet another case, of where the "truth wears off."

Thanks to Nicholas Wade for clarification and helpful direction. 


Dada said...

such beginners.... Syndecan-3 loss of function is the key, the new panacea, and who cares if it impairs learning and memory: watching TV makes us even dumber than losing a little bit of that magical and beautiful proteoglycan...

Blue Nosed Mule said...

YeP, no free lunch. Physics has its second law of thermodynamics and bio has "no free lunch"...maybe some mathematician will eventually prove they are the same law in different forms.

Kinda reminds me of a recent rheumatology retrospective meta-study that found the most effective drugs against rheumatoid arthritis suppres TNF well enough to increase risk of can't win and you can seldom chose which way to lose.