In case you missed it, last week there was a huge announcement concerning the study of “junk” DNA. The reported findings were astounding and offered not only a glimmer, but a million watt strobe, of hope that someday scientists might learn why one person gets cancer (or rheumatoid arthritis), and someone else doesn’t. You can read the New York Times article (with additional links) here.
I have to say that every revolutionary scientific discovery has been met with controversy and skepticism, and this one is no different. (Read the Forbes rebuttal here.)
Let me tell you, I want this to be true. I really, really want there to be an “off” switch to RA. Given all the pills and injections and stretches and ice packs and rest I do just to try to keep it at bay, I’d do 10 or 100 or 1000 times that effort if I could just friggin’ stop the disease.
We all know there are no easy answers and even now, just a few days after the announcement, lines are being drawn in the scientific community dividing the believers and the nay sayers. Like any great discovery (or announcement thereof), it will take time — no doubt decades — for the truth to be known.
But what I do know is that the investigation of this potentially revolutionary DNA study will yield amazing discoveries. When I look back at the acknowledgment of the early AIDS/HIV cases and how much we’ve learned about the immune system because of it, it’s astounding. Now we have the opportunity to examine the effect that so-called “junk” DNA has on a multitude of chronic, deadly, and debilitating diseases.
I don’t think you can have progress without controversy, so I am heartened by the amount of turmoil this announcement has caused. It is only right that something of this magnitude be examined and explored. And if it is true (prayers said, fingers crossed, lucky penny in my pocket), then maybe that examination and exploration will yield some answers and some real cures for what ails us.
I am hopeful, for all of us, that we are on the verge of one of the greatest medical findings of the age.
Thanks for checking in.