Cells and people behave the same–the Aurora, Colorado tragedy

Our 50 trillion cells
work together and cooperate with each other. Even though the networks appear
complex, they are ultimately under a central control,[1] which is based on a few
simple concepts:

It is a mistake to imagine that complex
disease may not be solved by simple approaches or that their causes are not
simple. The grave danger that terms such as ‘multifactorial’ or ‘complex’ is
that they may justify the belief that solutions will come only from large and expensive managed
projects rather than from simpler approaches…Diseases don’t exist in their own
right but as alterations in complex systems of homeostasis. Medicine has little
regard for complete description of how a myriad of pathways result in any
clinical state
.”[2]

True, but even so, research studies on
isolated parts of the whole are still beneficial and have significantly contributed
to our society; hopefully, they don’t lose track of the “forest.” The latter point
was sadly exemplified at a recent meeting of doctors I attended; one esteemed
and intelligent colleague expressed his opinion that the word “holistic”
conjures images of someone trying to cure brain cancer with Gingko baloba.
Granted, some have imbued that word with unsubstantiated claims of fantastic
cures. Nonetheless, retreating to the other extreme does not serve us well:       

The current discourse on clinical medicine is dominated by a
mechanistic, deterministic, and reductionist world view and has much to gain by
embracing the concepts in complexity science
.”[3]

Fortunately, top
researchers do understand what “holistic” truly means:

 “Biologists are
struggling to move beyond a “part list” to more fully understand which network
components interact with one another to influence complex processes… The idea
that molecular signaling cascades share fundamental properties with ant
colonies and internet communication systems is adding new meaning to the idea
of interdisciplinary science
.”[4]

Scientists are going as far
as stating that our society must emulate the 50 trillion cells that constitute
our body; they work together in a perfect symphony of cell communication.[5] The same cooperative work
is vital if people are to survive in the long run, a subject that is discussed
on the cover of the July 2012 issue of the Journal Scientific American. “Scientists are pushing network analysis to
its limits across disciplinary fields
” to work on societal problems,
climate change, sustainability, ethnic strife, internet users emotions,
behavioral norms, terrorists activities, monetary exchanges, viral
transportation systems, cellular circuitry (cell communication), DNA
sequencing, and economic recession.[6]
So, “ourselves, and our interactions are the ultimate physics problem.”[7] We were brutally reminded of
this fact by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado in July. That bell tolled for all
of us.
Have we grown too isolated
from one another? Was the perpetrator a sick individual who felt himself
detached from society at large? There will always be “cancerous”
cells/individuals who will not hesitate to hurt the organism they are a part
of. Still, we would do well to revise our view of our body/world and strive to
work as cooperative societies, not competitive ones.[8]
“No man is an island,” but
most of us, from time to time, may feel like one. Perhaps the sick young man in
Colorado felt extremely isolated, and due to unresolved inner demons, went over
the edge. Adding the fact that our mental health system is broken,[9] we end up with a dangerous
mix that will likely result in similar tragedies in the future. This is why I
believe we must stand strong by the Second Amendment and preserve our right to
bear arms. If a few of the victims, particularly the 3 Armed Forces veterans,
had been carrying a lawful concealed weapon, the consequences may have been
less devastating.
To protect themselves from
inside and outside threats, some of our 50 trillion cells have a specific
defense function, immuno-detoxification. These cells are “allowed” to destroy
any wayward cell, toxin, or organism that threatens the survival of the whole
organism. These immune system cells are responsible, well trained and seldom
misfire. Of course, it would be best to prevent problems from arising altogether
with holistic approaches like nutrition and clean environments, but, sometimes
“lethal radiation” is necessary to treat a wayward cancerous
cell.

[1]Controllability
of complex networks
,” J. Nature
2011;47::167
[2]The puzzle of
complex diseases
,” J. Science 2002;296:699. Cover issue
[3]Complexity Science to
Conceptualize Health and Disease: Is It Relevant to Clinical Medicine
?”
            Journal Mayo Clinic
Proceedings 2012;87:314
[4]Life and the art
of networks
,” J. Science 2003;301:1863
[5]Mapping Cellular
Signaling
,” Cover issue J. Science, May 31st 2002;296:1632-1635
[6]Connections:
complex systems and networks
,” J. Science 2009;325:405
[7]Ourselves and Our Interactions:
the ultimate physics problem
?” J. Science 2009;325:406
[8] Cover issue Journal Scientific
American, July 2012
[9]
National Council for Disabilities (9/16/2002) report: “The U.S. mental
health services is in crisis,
” The American Enterprise Institute, J.
Family Practice News, January 1st, 2004, p82, New England J. of Medicine
2004;350:507 & J. Archives of General Psychiatry 2005;62:629

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