In a time when people are increasingly questioning the good of spending money on healthcare, I think it is useful to remind ourselves that cures and safety are not the only gain. Science, like any discipline worth pursuing, creates new avenues for exploration with every discovery made. Today I'd like to tell you about the potential benefits of cancer research that you probably would not have thought of immediately.
Follow this for a while, for you will not see its relevance at first, but it is there I assure you. All organisms have a death clock, a preprogramming for death that ticks on every second of your life, and of the life of every other thing currently alive, waiting for the time when life shall terminate. This clock is in your DNA, a huge molecule. See, all of your chromosomes have a long tale of unnecesary DNA called the telosome that every time one of your cells divides, loses just a few pieces of that DNA off the end. For most of your life, what it loses is not neccesary, is not used in the encoding of any of the stuff that makes you up, but eventually, it runs out of excess rope, and then it starts cutting what you need. This starts with the cells with the highest rates of replication, the blood, the skin and the hair. As the materials that make up your body and the chemicals required for your bodies processes are miscoded, and made improperly, your bodies reactions spin out of control, resources are wasted, cells die quickly, and finally, the whole organism (you) dies.
Recent studies however, and I will get citations soon from my professor, have shown that cancerous cells actually relengthen their telosomes, reversing this clock. It has long been known that aging partially exists as a defense against Cancer - the wasteful and excessive multiplication of cells eventually starving the body of resources - but now we have far better knowledge as to where structurally in the body, the connection lies. Through cancer research, we may find a way to cure aging as well as cancer.
Cancer by its nature is actually very regenerative, organs like the brain that do not normally produce new cells will mass produce them in a tumor, and not only do such ability hold promise for aging, but when properly tamed, cancer may also help to alleviate the suffering of stroke victims, paralysis victims, liver disease, sever ulcers and ulceration, flesh eating bacteria and many other ailments where the body either never produces new cells after birth, or cannot produce them quickly enough. The very thing that makes cancer so dangerous also makes it potentially a valuable tool for ALL healthcare needs, if the ways to handle it properly could be understood and mastered by science. We could even regenerate limbs and eyes, if only the cells could find again their function and cease multiplication when appropriate. This is exactly what we're trying to do with Stem Cells, and with a modified and controlled cancer, this could be done using a patients existing cells as they already are in the body. I know that's a big "if," but it is a good example.
But beyond the healthcare business itself is the nanotech industry, the industry of building things at the molecular level, of creating out of a chain of carbons the strongest material on earth or an engine that can power a tiny robot. Such machines exist in cells, and have forever, and are among the very things a sequence of DNA encodes for. Your body produces such things automatically, without a hand being laid to it, chemically, wasting hardly any chemicals at all, producing its own energy from the sun or from sugars produce by those that use the sun, and multiplying in great number to create a being, out of these tiny machines, weighing between 90 and 250 pounds and standing 4" 10' to 7" 8' with infinite comlexity and abilities. Cancer creates the highest rate of replication, and thus for industrial purpose, producing vast chains of carbon, superfuels, tiny engines and robots, the optimal process for this manner of manufacturing.
Cancer research may also involve radioactive materials, chemicals of every kind, viruses, machinery, imaging, and all manner of things useful outside of cancer and outside of medicine entirely. Through the research, we understand not only the cancer better, but also the machine, as in the case of CAT Scans and medical x-rays adapted for scanning bags at the airport, and also can learn better production methods for existing technologies with the investment put in for treating a deadly disease and improving the lives of millions.
For the ecology and ecosystem, humankind has much to learn about recycling its own resources and conserving for its own needs from the greatest recycler of all, the mother Earth. From mother nature, through medical research, we can find the ways to live on less, and master much more fully on resources, producing strange new materials out of familiar ingredients, not needing mines or finite quantities of fossil fuels, themselves the product of nature now past, and even, in some limited circumstances, reducing or reversing entropy.
"You have much to learn from your friends, and even more to learn from your enemies." (Chinese folk saying) In our fight with cancer, we may win battles we did not realize were part of the same war.
I wanted to get this article out quickly, but revisions will be made over the next few days. If you find it unclear now, come back in a week and if this message is gone you know its better.