One HHMI researcher is using a type of worm to learn how to help damaged neurons to self-heal. It's amazing, ground-breaking work, but as I read the article, it became clear that medical researchers had no real idea of where the messengers in neurons actually existed. The assumption was that the messenger, or mRNA, was produced in the main cell body of a neuron alone. But I don't understand why this assumption was made. Synapses signal neurons. So, like a telephone, a messenger would have to exist in the synapse as well as the main cell body in order to communicate. And guess what? That's precisely the case. The results were reported in September 2009 in the medical research journal, Cell.
You may wonder why it matters at all how neurons receive messages from the synapses--but that's only because none of your neurons are injured. If they were injured, believe me, the first question you'd ask is why. The second: How do we fix it? And for 19 years this September, no one could tell me those answers. Even when I hypothesized the problem to early researchers, I was dismissed as "not understanding the way the brain works." This made me think about a recent article about the lack of astrophysicists in America. The article spoke about how the science community is elitist, often discouraging people from entering certain fields. Which begs the question:
Are we our own worst enemies when it comes to medical breakthroughs and science-related research and technology?
You heard it from your kindergarten teacher, and every elementary school teacher thereafter: "Attitude is everything." If our social attitutde toward the sciences is elitist, whether it's medicine or astrophysics, then the "problem" is only one of mind over matter.
"Problems only exist in the human mind." The quote is from Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest and philosopher who worked in India and absorbed a great deal of eastern wisdom. Vedanta, the oldest philosophy known to man, derives from the Upanishads, the basis of modern-day Hinduism. According to Vedanta, our minds are the portals of true reality--everything else is just maya, or cosmic illusion. So if problems only exist in the human mind, which is true--that then translates into reality, influencing things like daily life to more complex matters in medicine. In other words, attitude really is everything. Our attitutde affects our physical reality--even if we don't fully understand how or why. And when we are just learning where things like mRNA derive from, I'd say our collective attitude needs a major adjustment.
Until next time, dearest readers....