Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death

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Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death

Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death

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Life started out using the Krebs cycle to convert gases into living cells—the engine of biosynthesis. But modern animals use it for biosynthesis and to generate energy. They can’t spin the cycle in both directions at the same time, so how did they manage? Lane seems firmly established in the scientific establishment — he’s a professor at University College London — but his book carries a whiff of the heretic. He’s glad that “the simplistic notion that genes control metabolism is beginning to unravel” but frustrated that “the idea that mutations cause cancer remains the dominant paradigm”— a paradigm that, to his mind, is “too close to dogma.” He also states plainly: “I want to turn the standard view upside down.” In glycosis, pyruvate is converted to lactate, allowing the cell to produce small amounts of ATP in the absence of oxygen. Warburg noted the propensity of cancers to ferment glucose in the presence of oxygen. However, many cancers don’t depend on aerobic glycolysis at all, normal tissues are also capable of aerobic glycolysis, and stem cells typically depend on ATP from aerobic glycolysis for their energy needs. In a footnote, the author confides that “probably only a tenth of what I wanted to write about actually made it into the book.” On behalf of humanities majors everywhere, I can only say thank goodness.

Lane explains cellular processes for producing energy particularly cellular respiration in animals. He recounts the history of key discoveries that underlie our understanding of cellular respiration and profiles the scientists involved. He compares cellular respiration with photosynthesis in plants and variants of these processes in microbes, pointing out the similarities and differences. He shows how early forms of the same processes could have initiated life detailing a specific scenario in hydrothermal vents. Lane explores how cellular respiration impacts health and aging. He makes the case that increasing dysfunction in cellular respiration is a primary factor in the increased rate of cancer and Alzheimer’s as we age and in agIf I have understood the author's thesis (and this is not 100% certain, but I think so), it could be summarized thusly: A thrilling tour of the remarkable stories behind the discoveries of some of life’s key metabolic pathways and mechanisms. [Lane] lays bare the human side of science… The book brings to life the chemistry that brings us to life. After reading this book, one will understand how this cycle of matter (eponymously named in the 1930s after Sir Hans Adolf Krebs) is a sound explanation for the origin of life, lifespan, and the end of life. You will learn how the whole beautiful process can be understood in terms of physical chemistry, which is a unique sweet spot in the massive space of possible scientific explanations. It is a remarkable story.

Metabolism is the sum total of reactions occurring in an organism at any one moment. Metabolism keeps us alive—it is what being alive is. In one of our own cells, there are more than a billion metabolic reactions every second. That’s about a hundred billion trillion reactions in the last second, or a billion times the number of stars in the known universe. These reactions don’t all work properly, and damage inevitably accumulates. Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. Hugely important ... a powerfully persuasive case for life being about energy flow, flux and change. In Transformer, chemistry is quite literally brought to life’ It’s not possible to construct a plausible story by starting with a computer chip. Energy drives everything and life began at an energy gradient. The great immunologist Peter Medawar said we age because we outlive our allotted time as determined by the statistical laws of selection. This textbook view sees ageing and the diseases of old age as little more than the unmasking of late-acting genes, whose effects do us in.

ageing, related diseases and cancer newly explained as consequences of slowing and reversing the Krebs cycle The chances of life starting on an oxygenated planet are arguably close to zero: hydrogen must react with CO2 to form organic molecules, but does so very reluctantly if at all in the presence of oxygen Lane notes that "cancer is a disease of the genome is too close to dogma." Different mutations are found in different parts of many tumours, often with little if any overlap, implying that the mutations accumulated during the growth of the tumor, rather than triggering its inception. Moreover, the same oncogene mutations are often found in normal tissues surrounding a tumor,



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