More Complex than Previously Thought – Part VIII – DNA Differences

Previously, it was considered to be axiomatic that all cells in the human body contained the same DNA. However, recent research found differences between the DNA contained in blood cells and other tissue in the body.

This discovery may undercut the rationale behind numerous large-scale genetic studies conducted over the last 15 years, studies which were supposed to isolate the causes of scores of human diseases.

Except for cancer, samples of diseased tissue are difficult or even impossible to take from living patients. Thus, the vast majority of genetic samples used in large-scale studies come in the form of blood. However, if it turns out that blood and tissue cells do not match genetically, these ambitious and expensive genome-wide association studies may prove to have been essentially flawed from the outset.

This discovery sprang from an investigation into the underlying genetic causes of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) led by Dr. Morris Schweitzer, Dr. Bruce Gottlieb, Dr. Lorraine Chalifour and colleagues at McGill University and the affiliated Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital. The researchers focused on BAK, a gene that controls cell death.

What they found surprised them. AAA is one of the rare vascular diseases where tissue samples are removed as part of patient therapy. When they compared them, the researchers discovered major differences between BAK genes in blood cells and tissue cells coming from the same individuals, with the suspected disease “trigger” residing only in the tissue. Moreover, the same differences were later evident in samples derived from healthy individuals.
“In multi-factorial diseases other than cancer, usually we can only look at the blood,” explained Gottlieb, a geneticist with McGill’s Centre for Translational Research in Cancer. “Traditionally when we have looked for genetic risk factors for, say, heart disease, we have assumed that the blood will tell us what’s happening in the tissue. It now seems this is simply not the case.”

It remains to be seen how many other differences will be discovered. But what is certain, is that a whole other layer of complexity has been added to the enormous complexity of biological systems. Yet we are told that there is “no evidence of design or a Designer.”


More Complex than Previously Thought-Part VI

In The Journal of the Creation Science Movement,(1) we find:

The psalmist says, “I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works” (Psalm 139: 14). Nowhere is this more evident than in the design of the human brain. Capable of incredible feats of computation, data recognition and information storage, the brain exceeds the abilities of all the electronic devices mankind has yet been able to devise. As none of the latter have ever occurred by accident but have had to be painstakingly designed, so the human brain is likewise compelling evidence for a Designer. New evidence now indicates that this design is still greater than had previously been realized.

If the brain wasn’t already complex enough (100 Billion neurons with 1000 to 10000 interconnections each), it was recently found that individual synapses (think of it as a point of connection between neurons), can act independently.

Furthermore, work on neurons by other researchers has suggested that even individual synapses – the junctions of a neuron with other neurons and nerve cells – could be capable of acting independently from each other within the same neuron. This could mean that these different synapses are processing or storing completely different bits of information, even at such a microscopic level.

At the edges of all that is known in science, one finds ever more baffling phenomena and/or breathtaking complexity. Ultimately, we discover the limits of our ability to comprehend and even observe. I believe that there are messages in these facts for those who are listening. That is, we should maintain some humility in our search to understand, and that many aspects of the nature of God are evident in nature for all who are willing to see.

(1). Creation, 15(9), pp 2, 2008