Why Cancer Rates Increase with Age

Why Cancer Rates Increase with Age

A new article by Rozhok and DeGregori uses an evolutionary lens to propose a more sophisticated analysis of why cancer becomes more common with age, and the role of tissue ecology.

Rozhok, A., & DeGregori, J. (2019). A generalized theory of age-dependent carcinogenesis. ELife, 8. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.39950

Abstract: The Multi-Stage Model of Carcinogenesis (MMC), developed in the 1950 s-70s, postulated carcinogenesis as a Darwinian somatic selection process. The cellular organization of tissues was then poorly understood, with almost nothing known about cancer drivers and stem cells. The MMC paradigm was later confirmed, and cancer incidence was explained as a function of mutation occurrence. However, the MMC has never been tested for its ability to account for the discrepancies in the number of driver mutations and the organization of the stem cell compartments underlying different cancers that still demonstrate nearly universal age-dependent incidence patterns. Here we demonstrate by Monte Carlo modeling the impact of key somatic evolutionary parameters on the MMC performance, revealing that two additional major mechanisms, aging-dependent somatic selection and life history-dependent evolution of species-specific tumor suppressor mechanisms, need to be incorporated into the MMC to make it capable of generalizing cancer incidence across tissues and species.

Omenn Prize goes to an Article on Preventing Antibiotic Resistance

Omenn Prize goes to an Article on Preventing Antibiotic Resistance

The $5,000 Omenn Prize for the best article published in the previous calendar year in any scientific journal on a topic related to evolution in the context of medicine and public health goes to Roderich Römhild for his paper: Roemhild, R., Gokhale, C. S., Dirksen, P., Blake, C., Rosenstiel, P., Traulsen, A., … Schulenburg, H. (2018). Cellular hysteresis as a principle to maximize the efficacy of antibiotic therapy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(39), 9767–9772. doi:10.1073/pnas.1810004115

The prize, provided by the generosity of Gilbert S. Omenn, is awarded to the first author of the winning article. It includes $5000 and an invitation to present a talk at the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health annual meeting, August 13-16 in Zurich, with travel and lodging expenses covered. The prize committee including Isabel Gordo, Mel Greaves, Thom McDade, Steve Simpson, and Nina Wale was unanimous in its decision. 

Dr. Römhild will present a talk based on the paper at the 5th annual meeting of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health in Zurich, August 13-18.  Registration is open now. http://isemph.org . The full meeting schedule is posted at http://evmedconference.com

Evolutionary Medicine and Chronic Kidney Disease

Evolutionary Medicine and Chronic Kidney Disease

A new article by Robert Chevalier offers a broad-ranging view of how evolutionary medicine can help to understand the epidemic of chronic kidney disease. It is open access for a limited time. Chevalier, R. L. (2019). Evolution, kidney development, and chronic kidney disease. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, 91, 119–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2018.05.024

Abstract: There is a global epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD) characterized by a progressive loss of nephrons, ascribed in large part to a rising incidence of hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. There is a ten-fold variation in nephron number at birth in the general population, and a 50% overall decrease in nephron number in the last decades of life. The vicious cycle of nephron loss stimulating hypertrophy by remaining nephrons and resulting in glomerulosclerosis has been regarded as maladaptive, and only partially responsive to angiotensin inhibition. Advances over the past century in kidney physiology, genetics, and development have elucidated many aspects of nephron formation, structure and function. Parallel advances have been achieved in evolutionary biology, with the emergence of evolutionary medicine, a discipline that promises to provide new insight into the treatment of chronic disease.

This review provides a framework for understanding the origins of contemporary developmental nephrology, and recent progress in evolutionary biology. The establishment of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), ecological developmental biology (eco-devo), and developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) followed the discovery of the hox gene family, the recognition of the contribution of cumulative environmental stressors to the changing phenotype over the life cycle, and mechanisms of epigenetic regulation. The maturation of evolutionary medicine has contributed to new investigative approaches to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infectious disease, and promises the same for CKD. By incorporating these principles, developmental nephrology is ideally positioned to answer important questions regarding the fate of nephrons from embryo through senescence.

BJP article: Psychiatrists Need to Learn Evolution

BJP article: Psychiatrists Need to Learn Evolution

In a new article in the British Journal of Psychiatry, four leaders of the Royal College of Psychiatry Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group make a case for including evolution education for all psychiatrists.

Abed, R., Ayton, A., St John-Smith, P., Swanepoel, A., & Tracy, D. K. (2019). Evolutionary biology: an essential basic science for the training of the next generation of psychiatrists. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2019.123 (open access)

New Lancet article on Microbial Evolutionary  Medicine

New Lancet article on Microbial Evolutionary Medicine

A new Lancet article provides a very interesting overview of evolutionary approaches to microbial effects on human health, positive as well as negative. It is available free to those who register on The Lancet website.

Abstract: Medicine and clinical microbiology have traditionally attempted to identify and eliminate the agents that cause disease. However, this traditional approach is becoming inadequate for dealing with a changing disease landscape. Major challenges to human health are non-communicable chronic diseases, often driven by altered immunity and inflammation, and communicable infections from agents which harbour antibiotic resistance. This Review focuses on the so-called evolutionary medicine framework, to study how microbial communities influence human health. The evolutionary medicine framework aims to predict and manipulate microbial effects on human health by integrating ecology, evolutionary biology, microbiology, bioinformatics, and clinical expertise. We focus on the potential of evolutionary medicine to address three key challenges: detecting microbial transmission, predicting antimicrobial resistance, and understanding microbe–microbe and human–microbe interactions in health and disease, in the context of the microbiome.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(19)30045-3/fulltext

Final Days!

Final Days!

March 31 is the last day to submit nominations for the $5000 Omenn prize for the best article on evolution and medicine or public health in any journal. Nominate yours…or someone else…today! The winner also gets a trip to Zurich to present a paper at the Fifth ISEMPH Annual Meeting.

April 1 is the last day to submit an abstract for the August ISEMPH meeting in Zurich. You can also register for the meeting now at a discounted rate and get a refund if your plans change.