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Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 9 Human Evolution

From: Karen Blaustein <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Date: Sat Mar 10 2007 - 18:01:53 EST

Greetings,
       It was great this week to look at my weekly copy of Newsweek and
find an article concerning "Y chromsome" inheritance. In the past week
I have also read articles in the paper about new gene discoveries that
are connected to the topics we have watched on the Rediscovering Biology
videos. For example, there was an article in the Boston Globe this week
entitled "Gene defect leads to an AIDS drug." This article discussed
the gene mutation carried in men that provides natural protection
against HIV, which was discovered in 1996. This year the Pfizer drug
company is planning on selling the first drug based on this discovery
that mimics the gene defect. I also read an article on anticancer gene
is tied to tanning. Scientists have discovered a gene that is known for
preventing tumors also activates the tanning mechanisms that darkens
skin and prevents skin cancer. The researchers have noted that the
inability to tan is a major predictor of cancer.
     The article in Newsweek discusses the findings of researchers that
have traced the ancestry of Thomas Jefferson through his Y chromosomal
line which is known as the K2 line. The K2 line is known to be about
20,000 years old and is found scattered throughout Western Europe
(mostly Iberia, France and Britain), but is most prevalent in the Middle
East. The researchers now believe that Thomas Jefferson might have
Jewish ancestry. Also, the article discusses that the most likely
reason the K2 line is scattered throughout Western Europe is due to the
Jewish Diaspora, which is the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout
the world after being kicked out of Israel by the Romans. Of course,
the researchers, which are from the University of Leicester, are not
totally certain about the ancestry of President Jefferson without more
data, but it piqued the interest of the Jefffersonian and Jewish
communities in the United States. Most notably, it brought to light the
fact that through genetic studies many of us are more related than we
previously thought. Also, it is interesting to note that the same
Leicester team of researchers previously determined that Jefferson had
fathered the children of Sally Hemmings who was a slave on his
plantation.
     So, as you mentioned Ed the racial lines are more blurred than we
previously thought and will continue to mix as people migrate to
different countries and as intermarriages increase. It so so
interesting to study evolution, but since we are here on earth such a
short period of time and human evolution takes so long to occur we will
always be studying and learning about new discoveries.
 
-Karen
 

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of ed leitz
Sent: Wed 3/7/2007 2:07 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 9 Human Evolution

Hi Karen and Mary
    Mary I agree that this is also one of my personal favorite topics.
I
also agree that it is a shame many students are being denied the
opportunity
to fully understand the evolutin of the human race and where their
ancestory
may have evolved from. It simply astonishes me that there are still
those
people (hopefully a very small group by now) thar would have everyone
believe the Earth is only a couple of thousand years old based on the
bible.
  If you believed that you obviously would not believe in evolution
because
there is no time for it to occcur.
   Every year when I have the breif opportunity to talk with my
students
about evolution I am amazed at how little they know. They have all
heard of
Darwin and may know a little about survival of the fittest, but I would
be
willing to bet not one of them could talk about the Out of Africa
hypothesis. One fact I believe is confusing to many is the time scale
of
the evolutionary process. The video and text both talked about "short
amout
of time" it took for humans to move out of Africa and populate other
areas
of the world, many do not realize a "short time" in evolution is very
different from a "short time" in our life span.
    I also agree with the Out of Africa hypothesis. As Mary said there
seems to be much less support and proof for the mulit-regional
hyopthesis.
I believe the largest supporting agrument is ithat there is more genetic
diversity between ethnic groups than there is between races. In any
evolution be it humans or another organism, there is so much chance
involved
that it does seem unikely that such similar organisms would evolve so
independently, however we do know that it has happened in the past.
   I think many peoples opposition to evolution and especially the Out
of
Africa hypothesis, other than religious reasons, it is racial issue.
There
are still many people out there who believe they belong to a superiour
race
and they cannot be assiciated with another race. For many ignorance is
much
more powerful than scientific fact.
    Lastly, as time progresses, there is more mixing of the races and
the
world becomes a smaller place, races will probably become less and less
evident. Today already we have begun to develop words that explain
someones
mixed racial background. Is it hard to imagine a time in the not to
distant
future where someone would have four grandparents who were african
american,
white, hispanic, and hispanic? I personally do see a future where
racial
lines are very blurred, in which case all humans are much more similar
than
different and differences are caused almost entirely by mutation. As
the
video (or text?) stated, it is a very hard topic to study and understand
because none of us were here to see what are distanct ancestors were
like
and no one will be here to see how the human species will evolve.

Ed

>From: "Mary Johnston" <mjohnston@haverhill-ps.org>
>Reply-To: Discussion list for REDISCOVERING
>BIOLOGY<channel-talkbio@learner.org>
>To: <channel-talkbio@learner.org>
>Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 9 Human Evolution
>Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 11:05:33 -0500
>
>
>Hey Karen and Ed,
> Onto the next unit which was evolution. I have always enjoyed this
>topic and am still amazed when people try to deny the process of
>evolution. I always enjoy reading about how the chimpanzee is our
>closest living relative anf facts like there is more genetic variation
>within ethnic populations than between the major racial groups. For
>example, the online text points out that "if everybody on earth became
>extinct except for the Kikiyu of East Africa, about eighty percent of
>all human variation would still be present in the reconstituted
>species." This is essentially saying that we are all much more closely
>related than one might at first think. I think the "Out of Africa"
>hypothesis that all modern humans are descended froma Mitochondrial Eve
>and Y chromosome Adam who were based in Africa is quite plausible.
>There seems to be little evidence to support the idea of pure races.
We
>are all mixed at some point. It makes me think of the current
>presidential election and the controversy surrounding Barak Obama.
Some
>people think he will have a hard time appealing to blacks and whites
>because he has a mixed heritage. Some of his ancestors may even have
>owned slaves. This argument is ridiculous on several counts including
>that his heritage has no impact on his ability to lead this country and
>that everyone at some point in their heritage is mixed.
> I am a proponent for the "Out of Africa" hypothesis which states
>that modern humans evolved from a common ancestor who started in Africa
>and then spread eventually to the other continents. evolving as
>conditions required. The multiregional hypothesis which states that
>Homo sapiens populations evolved simultaneously in separate areas like
>Africa, Europe, Asia. all at once seems a little too convenient and
>current DNA evidence suggests that the Africa model is more probable.
> I found the research on asthma to be quite interesting as well
>because my new little niece has been diagnosed with asthma and asthma
>seems to be on the rise in this country probably in great part due to
>environmental reasons like high levels of pollution. The interesting
>finding by researchers was that the genes that were indicators of
asthma
>were not the same for whites, blacks, and hispanics. My niece has a
>white father and a hispanic mother. Obviously I don't know which
>genetic markers she has, but it would be an interesting research
>project. This idea of major differences between the races in asthma
>seems to contradict the idea that races are more similar than they are
>different.. The author of the online text tries to explain this by
>saying the differences are due to marker allele frequency differences
>and not to gene type differences. In other words the alleles that mark
>the genes of interest may occur more frequently or less frequently
>depending on the group one is analyzing. The text is quick to add that
>more research needs to be done in this field before we have a
conclusive
>answer. In my own opinion, I would think that it would make sense that
>although many differences are present, all human beings are
>fundamentally more similar than they are different and that probability
>and allelic frequency plays a huge role in evolution. Just think about
>cases of genetic drift. What do you think about this idea?
>Mary Johnston
>
>________________________________
>
>From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of
>channel-talkbio-request@learner.org
>Sent: Mon 3/5/2007 12:00 PM
>To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
>Subject: Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 7, Issue 1
>
>
>
>Send Channel-talkbio mailing list submissions to
> channel-talkbio@learner.org
>
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> http://learner2.learner.org/mailman/listinfo/channel-talkbio
>or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
> channel-talkbio-request@learner.org
>
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> channel-talkbio-owner@learner.org
>
>When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
>than "Re: Contents of Channel-talkbio digest..."
>
>
>Today's Topics:
>
> 1. Re: Cell Biology and Cancer and Reply to Geneticsof
> Development (Karen Blaustein)
>
>
>----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>Message: 1
>Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 20:17:22 -0500
>From: "Karen Blaustein" <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
>Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Cell Biology and Cancer and Reply to
> Geneticsof Development
>To: "Discussion list for REDISCOVERING BIOLOGY"
> <channel-talkbio@learner.org>
>Message-ID:
>
><69BB75AAB563AB418EEB93D45855D87D0196E2D2@hps-mail.haverhill-ps.org>
>
>Greetings Mary and welcome Ed to our discussions,
>Mary I am glad you changed the discussion to cancer, although I find
the
>subject of stem cells so interesting even though it is so
controversial.
>After watching the video on cancer it is amazing to me how much
>scientists now know about the genes and proteins that control cell
>growth. Nevertheless, we still do not have a "cure" for cancer. As
>discussed in the movie, it is wonderful that there are so many new and
>different treatments for cancer that did not exist 25 years ago due to
>our increased knowledge of the cell cycle and the genes that activate
>and inhibit cell growth. This subject is very personal to me because
my
>mother died of cancer at the age of 45. When she was diagnosed at 35
she
>was only given 6 months to live, but actually lived another 10 years.
>However, she suffered through chemotherapy for most of those years and
I
>remember her saying how she was hoping to live as long as possible in
>hopes of the discovery of a cure for cancer. While watching the video,
>I couldn't help but think that if the resources that are available now
>were available when she was alive, she might have had a better chance
of
>surviving the cancer.
>As for your question Mary, I think that access to health care is
>essential to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. As
you
>mentioned, I am sure that many people do not trust the health care
>system or are afraid of seeking medical treatment. Education is an
>important component in the formula. That is why it is important for
>students to learn about the causes and preventions of cancer and
>understand the cell cycle so they have a better understanding of the
>disease and therefore may use this knowledge if needed in the future.
>It would be great if a national healthcare system was available.
>Unfortunately, economically it does not seem very feasible. I think we
>also need to fix our educational economic woes along with our
healthcare
>system!
>
>Karen
>
>________________________________
>
>From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
>Sent: Tue 2/27/2007 8:43 AM
>To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
>Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Cell Biology and Cancer and Reply to
>Geneticsof Development
>
>
>
>Dear Karen,
> I am totally disgusted by someone selling fertilized embryos for
>$3000 per embryo. This is the blatant selling of human life. I
thought
>we abolished selling people in this country quite a long time ago, but
>apparently every time we take a few steps forward, we also take a few
>steps backward. I realize that a fertilized embryo is not the same as
a
>fully developed new-born baby, but what else would an embryo ever
>become? I know you could take the argument to the extreme and say what
>about a sperm or an egg cell? Don't these have the potential to become
>a new life? I don't believe so. It is that beautiful moment of
>fertilization that makes all the difference. The information and
>directions for a whole person are not present until that occurs.
>Otherwise, any other point at which we say "Life" has occurred is
really
>arbitrary such as is it heart development or brain development or the
>moment the fetus looks "human"? I know a lot of people would not agree,
>but a sperm left alone will never become a human being. An embryo
>allowed to develop will and this makes all the difference in my
opinion.
> In regard to the chapter on cancer, I was really surprised that
>the National Cancer Institute's Budget was 4.6 billion dollars ten
years
>ago and we still have not managed to beat cancer. I know that there is
>a lot of great work going on from tumor suppressor drugs to
>anti-angiogenesis factors, but the fact that cancer is still killing so
>many of us is a hard pill to swallow. Of particular interest to me was
>the fact that cancer death rates differ among different sub-groups of
>the population. For example, as quoted in the unit, the 1996
>"colorectal cancer death rate was 16.4 per 100,000 for white Americans
>and 22.5 per 100,000 for black Americans and that the death rate for
all
>cancers combined is about 30 % higher for blacks than whites." This
>indicates that cancer is ravaging our society and also exploiting
>discrimination. Perhaps blacks do not have as easy access to health
>care or perhaps they are mistrustful of a medical system predominated
by
>white male doctors. Perhaps they are more often dismissed as being OK
>when early signs of disease should have been caught or perhaps even
that
>they themselves have a culture of not seeking medical treatment because
>they feel they cannot afford it or don't want to be burdensome to their
>families. Whatever is the case, I found this to be a disturbing and
>unacceptable trend. What can we as a scoiety do to stop this
disparity?
>Perhaps we need more free clinics that provide public services and
>walk-in programs. More importantly, we need a national healthcare
>system that provides everyone with equal access to medical care just as
>we have a national public school system. I realize that there would be
>some problems with this, but just because the situation wouldn't be
>perfect doesn't mean that we shouldn't try and attempt beneficial
>change. What do you think?
>Mary Johnston
>
>
>________________________________
>
>From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of
>channel-talkbio-request@learner.org
>Sent: Mon 2/26/2007 12:00 PM
>To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
>Subject: Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 6, Issue 5
>
>
>
>Send Channel-talkbio mailing list submissions to
> channel-talkbio@learner.org
>
>To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
> http://learner2.learner.org/mailman/listinfo/channel-talkbio
>or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
> channel-talkbio-request@learner.org
>
>You can reach the person managing the list at
> channel-talkbio-owner@learner.org
>
>When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
>than "Re: Contents of Channel-talkbio digest..."
>
>
>Today's Topics:
>
> 1. Re: Unit 7 Genetics of Development (Karen Blaustein)
>
>
>----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>Message: 1
>Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 16:51:12 -0500
>From: "Karen Blaustein" <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
>Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 7 Genetics of Development
>To: "Discussion list for REDISCOVERING BIOLOGY"
> <channel-talkbio@learner.org>
>Message-ID:
>
><69BB75AAB563AB418EEB93D45855D87D0196E2CF@hps-mail.haverhill-ps.org>
>
>Hi Mary,
>I basically agree with you. It was interesting to learn about the
>differences between a totipotent stem cell and a pluripotent stem cell.
>I had never heard of a totipotent stem cell, but now realize that they
>are the only ones that have the ability to develop into a fetus with
the
>associated placenta. Personally, I do not believe that we should
produce
>embryos for the sole purpose of research when other sources of stem
>cells are available. These include embryos produced by infertile
>couples that are no longer needed due to various factors. Many of these
>embryos may be discarded and therefore I believe that these embryos
>could be used for research. However there are still many controversial
>implications concerning stem cells. Should we ban couples from using
>fertility treatments because they will inevitably be producing some
>embryos that may never be used? Is this the same thing as killing a
>possible life? To me, it basically comes down to this... the stem
cells
>have not diferentiated into specialized cells. Accordingly, they do
not
>have nerve cells, brain cells, etc. which are cells assoicated with
>thought, feelings, and pain. Similarly, organs have not yet developed.
>Therefore, they are not really a living human being yet. Could we
dream
>up that ovarian egg cells and sperm cells are also a potential person?
>
>I was watching the news the other night and they had a story about a
>woman who is making and selling fertilized embryos to the general
>public. The cost was about $3000 dollars, which is significantly less
>that adoption (except that it was preferably to buy more than one
>because implantation might not work the first time). She is making and
>selling possible human life. What do you think about this?
>
>________________________________
>
>From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
>Sent: Fri 2/16/2007 10:50 AM
>To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
>Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 7 Genetics of Development
>
>
>
>
>
>________________________________
>
>
>Dear Karen,
> I found this unit on the genetics of development to be quite
>interesting and controversial. In terms of research it seems that
>embryonic stem cells are the most useful. They can differentiate into
>many more cell types. They are easy to grow in large numbers in the
lab
>and hold much promise in the treatment of many illnesses and medical
>conditions including Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and leukemia.
>However, in the harvesting of these cells, the embryo and thus a
>potential person are detsroyed. Adult stem cells are much harder to
>grow in large amounts and cannot differentiate into as many different
>cell types. It is my opinion that research on existing cell lines
>should continue as directed by the Bush administration, but the
>destruction of embryos for the sole purpose of research should not be
>allowed. We could be destroying a human being that actually does
>discover the cure for cancer or HIV or any number of diseases. At the
>same time, we must be reasonable and allow medicine to advance, so
those
>embryos that are already marked for destruction such as in unused
>in-vitro fertilization procedures should at least have some useful
>purpose.
> The key to this whole issue really is figuring out how to get
adult
>stem cells to become pluripotent. I have heard in the news that
>researchers are making great strides in this research. Therefore, I
>think that in the future the stem cell debate will not be an issue
>because scientists will have figured out how to use adult stem cells
>more prominently in their research. How do you feel?
>Mary Johnston
>
>
>_______________________________________________
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Received on Mon Mar 12 09:03:53 2007

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