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A Holistic Approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 5:21 AM

A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

Ever wondered as to how closely the health of humans and animals are intertwined? In fact, with the health of the planet ...It is all about "One Health"

It is not just health but almost every other aspect of life which are connected in a myriad of ways. Yet, nearly all the research undertaken in the field of Biomedicine today is focussed (selfishly) on us humans. Do we really need to care for the other species? Dinosaurs are all dead and so are all the Dodos, so how has life changed?

Let's come fast forward to find some answers. Jim Robbins wrote an article in the July 14, 2012 issue of the New York Times entitled "The Ecology of Disease" http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/sunday-review/the-ecology-of-disease.html?_r=2 He talks about "ecosystem services" and the interdependency of all life forms. He states:

"If we fail to understand and take care of the natural world, it can cause a breakdown of these systems and come back to haunt us in ways we know little about. A critical example is a developing model of infectious disease that shows that most epidemics - AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more that have occurred over the last several decades - don't just happen. They are a result of things people do to nature.

Disease, it turns out, is largely an environmental issue. Sixty percent of emerging infectious diseases that affect humans are zoonotic - they originate in animals. And more than two-thirds of those originate in wildlife."

To bring the message closer home have a look at http://www.livingbooksaboutlife.org/books/Veterinary_science/Introduction. The article by Douglas Thamm and Steven Dow "How Companion Animals Contribute to the Fight Against Cancer in Humans" makes a compelling case for a holistic approach to Biomedicine.

There are several initiatives that are being taken worldwide to understand and find ways for all live forms to co-exist sustainably. Here is one small but important project where you can play a part http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-desert-kit-fox-project

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#1

A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 8:25 AM

Last line should read.....

There are several initiatives that are being taken worldwide to understand and find ways for all life forms to co-exist sustainably. Here is one small but important project where you can play a part http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-desert-kit-fox-project

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#2

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 10:19 AM

Are you sure you have the right forum?

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#3

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 11:15 AM

"All life forms to co-exist sustainably."???

I do understand and appreciate this in heuristic, Buddhist kind of perspective. I also am saddened by the ecology changes making more endangered species on our planet. However, predators must eat prey to survive. Most pathogens are life forms, too. Making anthropocentric choices on which species of life are preferred is a substantial part of the reason why many specific species are becoming extinct. Choosing one species over another is the antithesis of biodiversity.

How does this tie into engineering?

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#4

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 11:37 AM

You wrote, "There are several initiatives that are being taken worldwide to understand and find ways for all live forms to co-exist sustainably."

This is where things get very stupid. Just leave them alone. Everything works in perfect harmony all by itself.

The Earth, teaming with life, got along just fine for over 3 billion years without human intervention.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 12:03 PM

I have a feeling that the OP might debate the age of the Earth with you.

And I don't mean that he'll take the 6.5 billion year old side.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 12:34 PM

:)

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#7
In reply to #6

A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 5:34 PM

I am delighted to see that three anointed "Gurus" have posted comments on this thread. It certainly served one purpose of posting this information in this forum, as the idea is to get people outside the world of ecology and environmental engineering to participate in these discussions.

When I was a graduate student some thirty five years ago at a leading technology institute in a "developing country", the interdisciplinary field of environmental engineering was little known, in fact a department with this name did not even exist at our institute. The few of us who pursued this field of study had the privilege of studying in more than one department. I enjoyed the time I spent in the mechanical and chemical engineering departments.

Most of our fellow students who stuck to the conventional disciplines had difficulty in comprehending as to how we could get our study so "mixed up". There were pressing problems that our country faced at that time for which we needed engineers specialized in their own area of work. We needed to build dwellings for the masses, feed the hungry, provide the basic amenities etc, etc. It was considered "wasteful" to spend time and money in studying the impact of automobile or industrial emissions.

During that time, it was thought that quick fixes could be found for offending problems by getting a "specialist" to solve it. One particular one which comes to my mind was a fix for smoky diesel exhausts. A very famous "western" chemical engineering company came up with a diesel fuel additive which miraculously appeared to clean the exhaust gases. One needed to just add a small amount of this chemical along with the diesel and the black smoke from the engine got eliminated. It was only several years later that it was discovered that this was causing an increase in the risk of cancer in humans. The "chemical" was a barium based compound which at the peak combustion temperatures and pressures in a diesel engine was being synthesized into a carcinogenic compound.

In my engineering career I have had the good fortune of working on several holistic solutions which have encompassed several disciplines. Invariably, the best solutions are the ones which involve individuals from several engineering disciplines.

I have found this to be even truer, when many of the world's current day problems are addressed. When my daughter, who by profession is a veterinarian, began her graduate studies at a famous environmental school in North Carolina I began to see how we (humans, animals, plants and the planet in general) are inextricably linked.

The world needs the expertise of people from various fields, be they be from engineering, medicine or the humanities to tackle the challenges we face today.

On reading the comments of the three gurus in this thread, I was prompted to see from what field they came from and their expertise on this subject. I was amused to read their postings some of which are quoted below:

Frozen Soda Can Did Not Burst

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/84972#comment945717

lyn:

What happens if you put the can in near boiling water? Does it bubble?

In Search Of Intelligent Life, Somewhere; Anywhere.

redfred:

I agree that your PRV scenario will explain the two stage deformations of a soda can. I repeat my question, why only this one can and not any other cans in this freezing vending machine?

"A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering." Freeman Dyson

Is This the Right Room For an Argument

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/85059

lyn:

First, let me say that your typing skills, and your ability to use tons of words, when a few pounds would do the trick, may be exaggerating your sense of loss of control of the technical aspects of the discussion.

Sure, we're opinionated. I spouted off about GMO's the other day and was soundly thrashed for it. Justifiably.

redfred:

How can you say that you want an argument when you haven't paid.

..................

I do see that they have opinions on several "weighty" issues of this world. I would encourage them to read up on the "newer" subjects (a quick Wikipedia or a Google Plus search) would provide most of the answers they have posed in this thread.

To Anonymous Hero who states "The Earth, teaming with life, got along just fine for over 3 billion years without human intervention." I would suggest he read a short article entitled "What was behind the mysterious collapse of the Mayan Empire?" by Wynne Parry, in the LiveScience http://www.livescience.com/22581-mayan-empire-collapse-explained.html

For those who want to have an economic reason see "Biodiversity is about many, many of the fundamental pillars of our economy, says Edward Norton" http://www.bi-me.com/main.php?id=58263&t=1&c=34&cg=4

It is still not too late for us six-and-a-half-billion too-clever apes to ensure we have a sustainable future. The time to act sensibly is now.

I am reminded of an old saying by Confucius:

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 5:56 PM

For you I will repeat one of my old signature lines.

Eschew obfuscation.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 6:05 PM

I am reminded of an old saying by a redneck warden in the movie, Cool Hand Luke.

"What we have here, is failure to communicate".

Your ego must be astronomical, if you decide to insult members of an anonymous forum to feed your own ego.

After just a few days, you have analyzed us all and decided, by some misguided sense of superiority who to flame.

Your arrogance is without equal.

Your rudeness is second only to your arrogance.

You're a joke.

Peace on you!

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#10
In reply to #7

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/29/2013 6:40 PM

You wrote, "To Anonymous Hero who states "The Earth, teaming with life, got along just fine for over 3 billion years without human intervention." I would suggest he read a short article entitled 'What was behind the mysterious collapse of the Mayan Empire?'"

Two things come to mind...

1. The Mayans came along pretty late to the party with respect to the history of the Earth. Again, things were going along just fine.

2. The thesis as to the main cause of the Mayans does well to support my original claim. That is, when humans get involved in bio-engineering in an attempt to rectify what is perceived as an inadequacy in the immediate environment, they usually muck it up!

Which cleverly brings us right back to the original argument you cited in the first post about what we should do...

Given we have a long history that demonstrates the unforeseen effects of muddling around with Mother Nature you would think that we might try a different approach that is the most obvious.

My plan is this:

1. Step softly and try to leave as minimal a footprint as possible.

2. Leave well enough alone and stop trying to play Sir Galahad to Mother Nature.

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#11
In reply to #10

A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/30/2013 4:34 PM

Huh!! What's up with you lyn?

If you are insulted by your own comments why do you bother to keep posting them!

The rest of my posts are statement of facts and nothing to do with you

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you Anonymous Hero for your comments. This is exactly the kind of discussions that this forum was designed to elicit.

Your suggestion "Step softly and try to leave as minimal a footprint as possible" is what ecologists and environmental engineers the world over are pleading for.

We humans exist on the limited resources that this planet possesses; all we are being requested to do is to use these resources for "our progress" in a sustainable manner. Yes we should not be meddling with nature and that is the point.

So when we engineers go about setting up a solar plant in a desert, we just need to listen to the ecologists who have suggestions to minimize our impact on nature.

Let's make peace with nature.

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

06/30/2013 7:46 PM

Still trying to determine your motivation, and your statement that, "The rest of my posts are statement of facts".

You seem to have anointed yourself as the judge of all members here.

I am insulted by your attitude.

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: A Holistic approach to Biomedicine

07/21/2013 10:25 PM

The Mayans were killed off by smallpox although there are still Mayans around. I met one the other day.

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#12

Re: A Holistic Approach to Biomedicine

06/30/2013 7:35 PM

I agree that we should work as much as practical with nature instead of against it. However, we must also recognize that nature is a two faced spirit. Nature is what allows all species to live on this bright blue pebble. At the same time much of nature in the quest for their own survival is trying to kill us. Finding the useful, practical middle ground between trying to over ride nature and letting her have her way is at best very tricky. Mother nature adjusts her tactics constantly, we should respond to her similarly.

We also must also recognize that we are not outside of nature but are part of her. The growth of humanity has both harmed and helped other species on this planet. While we crowd out many species in our control of habitat (bears, wolves, tigers, etc.) we have also helped several with our habits (domestic cats, Norwegian rat, sea gulls, etc.).

One of the things that many amateur ecologists (I am not calling you, Kadaba, an amateur) get wrong that bothers me is that ecosystems are not static. Ecosystems change all the time. This flux complicates ecology studies and convincing people that they should change any act, let alone anything as sensitive as medicine.

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#15

Re: A Holistic Approach to Biomedicine

07/21/2013 10:26 PM

Ok Lyn, let me take the other side.

We now have a pandemic of Lyme Disease in the USA and Europe with 80% of the population of Europe having it and we here are catching up fast at 300,000 cases a year now. NONE of the major drug companies are working on a cure but they are working on maintenance medicine from which they will be making TRILLIONS of dollars.

What started it was the demise of the lowly fox (if you discount the fact that three strains of Borrelia which causes Lyme disease have been genetically modified but I'll save that for another forum here somewhere).

http://news.ucsc.edu/2012/06/red-fox-lyme-disease.html

There are people who say the US government started the epidemic here but actually it really started when the Save the Coyote people pushed to let the coyote move east where it hasn't been for thousands of years. Coyotes have eaten ALL the small mammals in Florida like raccoons, armadillos and possums.

Coyotes have to eat every day, are meat eaters, can smell a litter 2 miles away but won't eat rats and mice for some reason.

The white footed mouse is the vector for the ticks in their first stage of molting into adults. Hence the current Lyme plague that has New England on it's toes and it's back at the same time now. It will get worse before it gets better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7skqdqWYTI

The white footed mice in now reproducing in epidemic proportions in the New England area and in Florida we are now overrun with rats. Sanibel Island near me, a wild life sanctuary barrier island, was home to thousands of raccoons, bobcats, countless marsh birds and now is completely devoid of any wildlife except a family of 4 coyotes who are now working on the domestic population of pets there. Coyotes can jump straight up 9' into the air so even the nesting young birds are dinner for them now.

So, the job for chemical engineers is to find a viable way to kill the tick larvae in winter. I say spray a larvicide with helicopters and trucks like we do in SWFl for mosquito larvae. It could be done once in the fall after the leaves fall but before the snows come and again in the spring. It would have to be tick-specific too.

Lyme mimics at least 40 different diseases and is probably the direct cause of most of them which is coming to light now that DNA mapping is standard procedure.

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