Howard's End: Healing Technology
Humans are dumb if they spend billions of dollars on genetic engineering, human cloning and stem-cell research before asking why is it that crayfish, star fish, the octopus, crabs, the salamander, lizards, frogs, and the plant kingdom can naturally regenerate lost body parts and cure their diseases. Maree Howard writes.
New Zealand could lead the world in finding answers to the how and why of healing and regrowth in the plant and animal kingdoms which would ultimately benefit humans. And it wouldn't cost much.
In 1958 a Russian scientist, A.M. Sinyukhin from the Lomonosov State University in Moscow, wrote a science paper about regeneration of plants.
At the time, nobody was really interested in plants or animals, seeming to believe, as they do now, that plants and animals are beneath we humans.
The dogma remains today, that what plants and animals can achieve is of no account to our all-knowing human superiority.
Sinyukhin began by cutting one branch from each of a series of tomato plants. Then he took electrical measurements around the wound as each plant healed and sent out new shoots near the cut.
He found a negative current - a stream of electrons - flowing from the wound for the first few days.
However, during the second week of Sinyukhin's experiments, after a callus had formed over the wound and the new branch had begun to form, the electrical current became stronger and reversed its polarity to positive.
The important point wasn't the polarity but, rather, because he found a CHANGE in the current that related to healing and regrowth of the tomato branch.
He found a direct correlation between these orderly electrical events and biochemical changes.
As the positive current increased, cells in the wounded area more than doubled their metabolic rate, also becoming more acidic and producing more Vitamin C than ever before.
Sinyukhin then increased the current, using small batteries, to a group of newly lopped tomato plants, augmenting the natural regeneration current.
These "battery-assisted" plants restored their branches up to three times faster than the control plants. The currents were very, very small - only 2 to 3 microamps which is one millionth of an amp.
Larger amounts killed the cells and had no re-growth effect. And, he found, the polarity had to match that normally found in the plant.
When he used current of the opposite polarity, nullifying the plant's own natural current, regeneration of the tomato branch was delayed by three weeks.
To biology, however, this was all nonsense because they were, and are, locked into the dogma that humans, plants and animals are nothing more than mechanical and chemical beings with medical ills able to be cured by a drug, genetic engineering or perhaps even cloning.
Medicine seems to have forgotten that life's normal transformation from seed to adult - generation - would seem as unreal as regeneration, if it were not so commonplace.
If we look at cancer cells in relation to human generation, we can make one crucial observation. Except for the lack of control, all three characteristics - cell simplicity, mitotic (speed) of cell division, and a greedy food (metabolic) priority - are hallmarks of two normal conditions - embryonic growth and regeneration.
Swiss scientist G. Andres has proposed a theory of cancer that remains provocative. He says a normal cell becomes cancerous by dedifferentiation which is not dangerous per se.
But it becomes dangerous, Andres says, because it occurs in a post-foetal body and the controls that would normally hold those neo-embryonic cells in check in the embryo have switched off in the adult body.
Animals that can regenerate best are least susceptible to cancer and it is very difficult to induce cancer cells to grow in them even in laboratories. The salamander, for example, has tremendous natural regenerative abilities and no cancer.
The thesis is that cancer cells aren't special at all, but merely embryonic cells in a post-embryonic body where the controls have switched off.
In following up the regeneration connection two experiments are crying out to be done.
Firstly, we need to duplicate the electrical environment of regeneration around tumours in lab animals.
This would test the hypothesis that cancer cells are stuck in a state of incomplete dedifferentiation. The idea would be to dedifferentiate them the rest of the way and then let the normal processes in the body turn them into healthy mature cells..
Second, the same hypothesis can be tested another way by surgically creating neuroepidermal (nerve) junctions near the tumours. Since regeneration can't occur without the stimulus and control of nerves, they play a major part in regeneration.
Will these experiments be done soon? I wish I knew.
But while the multi-billion dollar research bureaucracy remains stuck in a near-primitive state-of-war mentality with no cures on the horizon, except through drugs, it doesn't seem likely.
We need to change our thinking. If somebody told you of a worm that built a little windowless house, slept in it for a time, then one day emerged and flew away as a beautiful jewelled bird, you would laugh at such superstition, - if you had never seen a butterfly.
Our prevailing medical dogma denies the existence of any generalised natural healing force in favour of thousands of little ones sitting on pharmacist's shelves, each one potent against only a few ailments or even a part of one.
Sure this system often works fairly well, especially for treatment of bacterial disease, but it is really no different from the ancient systems where a particular saint or deity had charge over each malady and each part of the human body.
Modern medicine didn't spring full-blown from the heads of Pasteur and Lister a hundred years ago. But, even today, we remain stuck in dogma.
It seems to me that we won't learn much more about abnormal growth until we learn more about the normal kind. New Zealand could lead the way.