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August 2016
Dani Bercovich PhD, Geoffrey Goodman PhD and M. Eric Gershwin MD

Immune function is the most basic physiological process in humans and indeed throughout the animal kingdom. Interestingly, the vast majority of textbooks of physiology do not include a chapter on immunity. Our species survival is dependent on the diversity of the immune response and the ability for antigen presentation and effector mechanisms to be enormously promiscuous. As physicians, we are likely all too aware of how brief our life span is and the myriad of diseases and events that shorten it. It is not surprising that we question where our life comes from and our relationship within the universe. Many hypotheses have been offered regarding the likelihood that intelligent life exists elsewhere. We propose that such issues be discussed in the context of basic biologic observations on earth, such as the sight of a dense flock of tens of thousands of starlings maneuvering in rapid twists and turns at dusk before settling in trees for the night. The mathematical likelihood for life elsewhere was proposed by Frank Drake in a classic equation whose 'thesis' has stimulated the search for alien civilizations and the nature of life. A fundamental gap in this equation is the presence of a diverse immune response, a feature essential for survival of Life, presumably also extra-terrestrially.

December 2014
Geoffrey Goodman PhD, M. Eric Gershwin MD and Dani Bercovich PhD

We are overwhelmed by warnings about inevitable geophysical and human problems. Earth is beset by escalating, man-made, environmental crises and our exploding population will eventually lack water, food and vital materials. This suggests, together with increasing poverty, deepening social unrest and advanced techniques for mass killing, that civilization will break down long before atmospheric CO2 or resistant microbes become catastrophic. Despite intensive searching, life has not been found in space, even though thousands of planets have been found and life there may be as problematic and unpredictable as on Earth. The human brain is already a 'universe', with 85 billion neurons and a hundred trillion synapses, more than the stars in our galaxy. Understanding consciousness, the brain, its aging and pathologies, and eliminating the propensity for human aggression are urgent challenges. During 1958–2012, NASA spent $800 billion. In contrast, the annual cost of brain disease in the U.S. is $600 billion, more than cardiovascular disease and cancer combined. We suggest that a massive switching of financial and human resources is required to explore the full potential of the human brain. Visiting Mars can wait. We further propose a novel two-brain hypothesis: the animal 'brain' evolved as two fundamentally different though interdependent, complementary organs: one electroionic (tangible, known and accessible), and the other, electromagnetic (intangible and difficult to access) – a relatively independent, stable, structured and functional 3D compendium of variously induced interacting EM fields.

October 2012
G. Goodman, M. Eric Gershwin and D. Bercovich

The role of carbon in the development of life and as the structural backbone of all organisms is universally accepted and an essential part of evolution. However, the molecular basis is largely unknown and the interactions of carbon with nitrogen and oxygen in space are enigmatic. In 1985, the previously unknown form of carbon, coined fullerene, was discovered. We hypothesize that by virtue of the unique properties of fullerene, this hollow, ultra-robust, large, purely carbon molecule was the earliest progenitor of life. It acted as a stable universal biologic template on which small molecules spontaneously assembled and then formed, by further assembly, a surface mantle (here termed rosasome) of larger molecules. We submit that this process, by its inherent flexibility, initiated evolution, allowing the emergence of parallel diverse rosasome lines responding selectively to varying spatial environments. For example, rosasomal lines mantled with nucleotide and peptide layers are conceived as primordial forerunners of the ubiquitous ribosome. Moreover, the parallel independent and interdependent evolution of rosasome lines would be more rapid than sequential development, refute precedence of either DNA or RNA, and explain the evolution of integration of two subunits with different structures and functions in ribosomes and of the triplet nature of the codon. Based on recent astronomical data, this hypothesis supports the concept that life is not a singularity. This concept also suggests a potential vehicle for therapeutics, biotechnology and genetic engineering.

 

December 2011
G. Goodman and M. Eric Gershwin

Physicians have a great interest in discussions of life and its origin, including life's persistence through successive cycles of self-replication under extreme climatic and man-made trials and tribulations. We review here the fundamental processes that, contrary to human intuition, life may be seen heuristically as an ab initio, fundamental process at the interface between the complementary forces of gravitation and quantum mechanics. Analogies can predict applications of quantum mechanics to human physiology in addition to that already being applied, in particular to aspects of brain activity and pathology. This potential will also extend eventually to, for example, autoimmunity, genetic selection and aging. We present these thoughts in perspective against a background of changes in some physical fundamentals of science, from the earlier times of the natural philosophers of medicine to the technological medical gurus of today. Despite the enormous advances in medical science, including integration of technological changes that have led to the newer clinical applications of magnetic resonance imaging and PET scans and of computerized drug design, there is an intellectual vacuum as to how the physics of matter became translated to the biology of life. The essence and future of medicine continue to lie in cautious, systematic and ethically bound practice and scientific research based on fundamental physical laws accepted as true until proven false.
 

January 2011
G.M. Hirschfield and M.E. Gershwin

Primary biliary cirrhosis is considered a model autoimmune disease because of the similarities between patients, their relative homogeneous presentation and natural history, and the presence of the signature autoantibody, the anti-mitochondrial antibodies. PBC[1] also illustrates the potential role of genetic and environmental influence and is unique in having several well-defined animal models that recapitulate distinct features of the disease. The pathogenesis of the disease includes genetic predisposition, the production of both innate and adaptive immune responses, and cholangiocyte-specific biology that addresses the specificity of disease. In this review we highlight these features of PBC in comparison to other autoimmune diseases.






[1] PBC = primary biliary cirrhosis


October 2009
J. Freire de Carvalho, R.M. Rodrigues Pereira and M.E. Gershwin

Approximately 1 in 31 people suffers from an autoimmune disease. The clinical care of patients with autoimmunity crosses multiple disciplines within pediatrics and internal medicine, including, for example, allergy-clinical immunology, rheumatology, nephrology, hematology, pulmonology and neurology. There are two major areas that are considered in the analysis of autoimmunity in human patients. The first of course is etiology and the second, and of even greater importance, is therapy. Towards that end, considerable attention has focused on the role of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to either reverse or modulate autoimmune disease. Indeed, it is a field that has far more promise than premise based on a variety of issues, including economics, health care delivery, and obviously efficacy and safety. To put this in perspective, we have attempted to review some of the issues that pertain to this novel approach to the management of autoimmunity. Finally, we emphasize the need to incorporate basic research into therapeutic trials, a vacuum all too often present in clinical intervention.

 
 

January 2008
Y. Shoenfeld, M. Blank, M. Abu-Shakra, H. Amital, O. Barzilai, Y. Berkun, N. Bizzaro, B. Gilburd, G. Zandman-Goddard, U. Katz, I. Krause, P. Langevitz, I.R. Mackay, H. Orbach, M. Ram, Y. Sherer, E. Toubi and M.E. Gershwin
September 1999
Sandra Reynoso-Paz, MD, Ross L. Coppel, MD, Aftab A. Ansari MD, and M.Eric Gershwin, MD
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