Saturday, August 14, 2004


We have spent many centuries searching for the meaning of life, but in recent decades cell biologists have become even more fascinated by the meaning of death.Bear with me for a while to see the weird nexus between life and death.

Apoptosis , is a normal component of the development and health of multicellular organisms. Cells die in response to a variety of stimuli and during apoptosis they do so in a controlled, regulated fashion. This makes apoptosis distinct from another form of cell death called necrosis in which uncontrolled cell death leads to lysis of cells, inflammatory responses and, potentially, to serious health problems. Apoptosis, by contrast, is a process in which cells play an active role in their own death (which is why apoptosis is often referred to as cell suicide).

For those in the know of Unix signals very well understand the difference between Signal 15 and Signal 9 which is exactly the difference between murder and suicide.In the cell world the signal carrier is Nitric Oxide(NO) not to be confused with the chemical Laughing Gas(Nitrous Oxide which has one more Nitrogen Molecle)

Studies on Earthworms, the fruitfly Drosophila, and the mouse indicate that the molecular machinery of apoptosis is evolutionarily conserved and intrinsic to all metazoan cells.

Many existing anti cancer treatments act through apoptosis because the cancer cells have forgotten how to die and has to be controlled.

New treatments aimed at modifying apoptosis are being developed and are
likely to be used to manage common diseases in the next decade

Whats interesting is the this process of death is significant in the developmental process that usually begins once the egg has been fertilized (Embryogenesis!). The process of birth involves the multiplication of cells (Mitosis) and Apoptosis plays a crucial role in
the birth of a cell.Reminds me of the last words of Mary,Queen of Scots "In my end is the beginning"...

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