Do you remember the scene in Aliens, where the guy is chowing down some food at a local diner and develops what a first glance appears to be a little indigestion?  Unfortunately for our hapless epicurean, antacids won’t do the trick.  Instead, a  horrifying creature claws its way out of his belly and quickly disappears.  The thought of harboring such a life form within us is not a pleasant one.

Yet within our bodies billions of life forms exist without which we could not function properly. I am speaking of course of our little bacterial friends.  These microorganisms inhabit our digestive system from our mouths to the end of the line-our rectums.  They help us digest food and even prevent harmful invaders from taking over.  Antibiotics, which indiscriminately decimate our tiny neighbors can lead to overgrowth of those bad boys- that in turn can lead to serious infection and even death.

Nematodes or worms  are nasty things which often have convoluted life forms.  A few can lead to mind boggling results- worms coming out of the eyes, being coughed up from the lungs or squiggling around the feet.  These infections other than a few benign forms are fortunately rare in non-tropical environments.

More sobering is the recent discovery that in our genome- that is the shared DNA of the 7 billion or so humans on this planet lies the DNA of an ancient parasite.  How, you ask- how in God’s name did a parasite which existed millions of years ago manage to etch its DNA into our genome?

The answer is retroviruses which through a form of RNA have  perfected an ingenious way of passing on their genetic code.   If we can trick these viruses into inserting “good” genes-for example to repair those missing in sickle cell anemia we will be able to prevent many inherited diseases. Swoop inside the earth of high standards with the help of educational ghostwriting site.

Getting back to our parasite infected genome, it turns out that if the parasite gene is turned on via enzymes then this results in a certain type of cancer.  Preventing this enzyme from activating this parasite gene might be a pathway to preventing the cancer.

So the next time you watch Aliens consider this: each and every one of us provides a nice home for good and not so good life forms.