Evolution and Literature
Evolution is a term used to describe the transformation in all form of life running across various generations. Scientists and researchers typically apply the theory of evolution to understand life. In the early days, medicinal practice was purely based on trial and error method, which took a lot of time often ending with frustrating outcomes. Later, in the early nineteenth century, medical schools became the pioneers of education on evolution (Novella, 2010). There have been diverse views that having evolutionary knowledge is a continuous threat to the set religious and political practices. The field of medicine is one good example where evolutionary theory is applied and, it has been met with equal measures of either resistance or acceptance.
Despite extensive advance in medicinal practices today, more often than not we are losing the fight in trying to eradicate diseases that had else been contained for a long time. This has called for a new approach when treating these diseases that are evolving on a daily basis. The advent of evolutionary medicine, in practice today, has seen the introduction of innovative and advanced medication and treatment practices. Organisms that bring about diseases are evolving all the time just like any other biological forms of life. This has seen the need for a deep understanding of evolutionary medicine fundamentally contributing to invention of news way of curbing diseases (Lappe, 2002).
An advantage in understanding the fundamental process of evolution is that it helps us decipher the basis of a genetic disease, what causes it and how to treat it. We come into contact with viruses and bacteria in our day to day lives. Some of these organisms are valuable while others bring harm to our bodies. When the harmful bacteria and viruses infect us, a fight ensues and we have to deal with the disease they cause and its evolutionary forms. Instead of giving up on the fight, we just need to understand their basic process of evolution the same way we study plants and animal evolution. This will go a long way in ensuring that we effectively deal with these harmful and disease-causing organisms (Novella, 2010).
Also getting to know the concept behind drug resistance by disease-causing organisms helps medical practitioners invent new treatment methods to eradicate the disease. For example, the virus that causes flu transforms a lot as it is transferred from one person to another and across the world. This regularly results in the vaccines administered to curb the flu becoming ineffective. However, understanding how the virus evolves leads us to new ways and methods of treating the flu.
It might be hard at time to understand for example why there is the need for a dose of the flu vaccine every other year. Why can’t we be immunized once and for all instead of doing it every year? The answer is that the human race is embroiled in a fight with disease-causing pathogens trying to outsmart the medical experts as they evolve on a daily basis. Evolutionary medicine comes into play as we develop better ways of battling the pathogens and even at times coming up with methods of completely eradicating them.
Not so long ago, the discovery of antibiotics led to the belief that finally a solution had been found to help fight deadly ailments. Antibiotics to a large extent helped curb most infectious diseases and were very successful in fighting diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. However, this is no longer the case as the antibiotics became ineffective day by day. Bacteria causing these infections have become resistant to antibiotics throughout the decades. Present day infectious bacteria are far much harder to control than their predecessors in the earlier years. They have continuously evolved such that the same form of treatment can no longer be applied to treat these infectious diseases. But all is not lost as evolutionary medicine has deciphered new strategies of combating these infections (Perlman, 2011).
Through application of evolutionary knowledge we are enlightened on how to deal with these antibiotic resistant diseases. Antibiotics are not effective when used in treating infections caused by viruses like a cold. They do not eliminate the virus but essentially acts on antibiotic resistant bacteria, which does not eliminate the infection. This inadvertently kills your immune system and eventually antibiotics are rendered useless when administered to treat an infection in your body. Another lesson from evolutionary medicine shows that taking antibiotics in short dosages for lengthy periods eliminates just but a small number of harmful bacteria. This in turn means that there will be bacteria that will survive eventually becoming resistant to the drug. A solution to such a case is to administer high dosage of antibiotics for a short period, which will eliminate all the infection-causing bacteria (Perlman, 2011).
In conclusion, evolutionary medicine in no doubt has to a large extent contributed to the success achieved in the medicinal field. Medical practitioners for a long time have been involved in a losing battle with various common and life threatening diseases affecting the human race. However, through continuous research and extensive studies and with the application of evolutionary knowledge has resulted in countless gains in finding solutions to this menace. With every evolving of the disease-causing pathogens, bacteria and viruses, mankind is sufficiently armed with tools and means of curbing and even eliminating this constant threat.
Lappe, M. (2002). Medicine Needs a New Infusion and Fresh Outlook on What it can Achieve. Retrieved, November, 16, 2011, from <http://www.fastol.com/~renkwitz/evolutionary_medicine.htm>
Novella, S. (2010). Evolution in Medicine. Retrieved, November, 16, 2011, from <http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/evolution-in-medicine/>