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Dolly doesn't wait in line at the hospital

While science is rushing forward, many people are flocking to complementary medicine instead. Some believe that the investment in genetic engineering and mapping the human genome comes at the expense of other areas of public health

By Danit Nitzan

After the cloning of Dolly the sheep, the exciting announcements about the decoding of the genome sequence

the human, the resurrection of a bison from a species that became extinct already eight years ago

years, finding the area of ​​the brain where consciousness resides, will produce a small pill

that takes pictures of the large intestine from the inside and creates a genetically modified monkey, it seems common sense

This scientific progress has not yet brought us closer to the initial goal

Her - finding a cure for diseases.

As scientists present more fantastic medical possibilities, and governments

And research institutes devote huge sums to research in advanced fields

in the most of science - this is how the general public's tendency towards the fields is evident

Medicine that is not scientific at all, such as acupuncture, shiatsu, homeopathy

and the other fields of alternative medicine, especially ancient medicine.

According to Prof. Meir Barzis, internist at Hadassah Hospital

In Jerusalem, most of the new information is completely inaccessible to most people.

"The genetic engineering, the cloning and the deciphering of the 'Book of Life' that we have just learned about

Those who are sick and need to see a doctor are not helped today. Not if he has

flu, high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes, and not if he has Alzheimer's or

some chronic disease. Nor is understanding the meanings of these revelations

Simple, and it is clear that there are many in the public who do not understand this new science -


Prof. Francis Collins, one of the heads of the genome project, said at the party

The journalists on the occasion of the end of the project that "the genome is the medical guide

The most detailed ever written." Prof. Barzis says that regarding the diseases

The prevalence - high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes - "The genome book is effective

As a medical guide about as effective as the telephone book is the most detailed description

of the company". According to him, for the most common diseases of modern society

The genome book does not offer a more effective treatment than medicine offers today,

and physical activity, proper nutrition and avoiding smoking.

Prof. Neil Holtzman from Johns Hopkins University wrote in the journal

"" New England Journal of Medicine because "from eagerness to insert the

Health and medicine for genetic patterns, we ignore possibilities

others to improve public health. Differences in the social structure, in the environment

The life and lifestyle between people is related to the types and extent of morbidity

Genetic differences between people are more related to this. Obviously the genetic knowledge

Not in the scope of 'the king's new clothes', but health policy planners

For the coming decades, other areas should also be taken into account

Public health, even if they are not the latest fashion".

"The fact that there is a 99.9% similarity between humans means nothing to me",

says Prof. Barzis. He quotes Prof. Dorothy Nelkin, a sociologist

from New York University who wrote in her book, "The DNA" "Mystique that the company

Modernity has turned the genome into a new cultural symbol, on which everything is dressed

The characteristics and problems of society - fidelity in relationships, violence, diseases

and happiness. According to her, this indicates a desire to find one technological solution

for complex issues.

"The backlash to scientific discoveries - in the form of running after medicine

The ancient, or natural, is the fault of conventional medicine in measure

Rabbah", says Barzis. "Because of the high technology, we, the doctors,

We have become less human - we have less time to explain and give attention.

Planning the tests and the logistics around them and decoding take most of the time,

And we lose the main thing, which is, for the patient, to talk to the doctor. also

Medical malpractice lawsuits encourage defensive medicine, and then do more

And more tests, and the multitude of tests does not improve interpersonal communication.

Patients feel this and turn to complementary medicine, whose therapist is Ben

A person who stands in front of the patient and listens to him, and in a large part of these treatments as well

touching him".

Bishem Azgad, scientific reporter and editor, says that the "despair" of the genome project is

early. "People's expectation of immediate solutions is what causes them

Seeing the genome mapping project as an irrelevant scientific adventure, and it is

which makes them go to other places to look for answers. But as it becomes clear what

Exactly the function of more and more genes, and there will be new drugs and methods

Treatment news, the mapping results will be more relevant. Completion of decoding

It is the beginning and not the end, so we shouldn't expect our lives to change right now."

In addition to this, says Azgad, the "heroic" science, as he defines it, is becoming more and more

relevant. "Already a year or two ago there were attempts to use engineering

Genetically for curing cancer and treating diabetes, and every day that passes, and this one is not

Melitsa, the future is approaching us in two days. It is impossible to expect that in a short time

There will be new drugs - for the drug Copaxone, developed at the Weizmann Institute against

MS, it took 30 years to reach a state where it is approved for use.

So will the scientific changes we are talking about today

We lived in 30 years. In my opinion, any prediction we make today about the possibilities

In the future you will be revealed as poor compared to what it really will be."

Dr. Orna Levin, general practitioner and lecturer on medicinal plants and Chinese medicine,

She was one of the pioneers of alternative medicine, when she learned about medicinal plants

18 years ago. According to her, the influx into the fields of alternative medicine has begun

Long before anyone had heard of Dolly the sheep or inoculation

using genetically engineered viruses.

The ancient fields of medicine and the most advanced fields of science are not interchangeable

Each other, says Dr. Levin. Hemophilia, for example, has a basis

Genetic, so genetic research can help cure it. to the enormous increase

In the "therapeutic" activity in the fields of alternative medicine, there are, in her opinion,

Other reasons: "Some people are afraid of medicines - there is a lot of information (and not

always accurate) about the harms of drugs, such as Ritalin, and fear of taking drugs

Too many when it is possible, perhaps, to treat in other ways; the medicine

The conventional one concentrated on saving lives and less on improving the quality of life,

And so people find answers to problems that threaten their quality of life in the fields

the alternatives; The opening of the world to the Far East and its places

Different medical methods were used than what we are familiar with, which contributed to the diversity

the options; It is easier for people to understand and connect to areas that are not

scientific-technological, and they also feel that these are more relevant

to their lives, even if not always rightly so. There may also be alienation between

the patients and the medical establishment, which stems from its scientificity and lack of

The treatment of the patient".

Another factor identified by Levin is people's desire to feel that they are being "cared for"

– not that they are treated by acupuncturists, for example, but that they are

acupuncturists themselves. "The feeling that he is a 'caretaker' gives a person status

some kind, a positive feeling, connection with other human beings, and answers sometimes

for emotional needs, in addition to the benefit the patient derives from it. It can too

explain the vast multitude of courses where devices handle everything

Various fields, from Reiki to the transfer of energies."

Prof. Michel Revell from the Department of Genetics at the Weizmann Institute, chairman of the committee

The National Institute for Biotechnology and a member of the Ethics Committee of UNESCO, understands the

The sources of alienation that many feel towards biotechnology. "Scientists don't

succeeded in showing the humane face of biotechnology and genetics",

He says. "The thought of taking tissues from embryos to use them

for transplants, or the genetic diagnosis down to the last detail - which presents information that we are

Not necessarily wanting to know and not necessarily being able to deal with it - factors

for this science to appear demonic."

However, Prof. Rowell claims, the feeling of alienation is not always justified. "Changes

The seventies, the beginning of the days of genetic engineering, about 20 medicines for diseases were developed

which previously were almost incurable. The most well-known of which are

Interferon-beta for multiple sclerosis, erythropoietin that stimulates blood formation in

Dialysis patients, growth hormones, iterfuron-alpha against jaundice,

Hormones used in fertility treatments - these are all products of engineering

genetic". Since until now only about 10,000 genes were known, and today

Everyone knows, nevertheless there will be a revolution in the field of medicine. "I am watching

that in ten years there will already be a significant change in the field of pharmaceuticals," he says

Prof. Rowell. If today there are many medicines for many diseases, and not every medicine

works with the same efficiency in every patient - after all, with the help of genetic information it will be possible

Adjust a medicine to the person according to the genetic structure, when the benefit will be maximum

And the side effects are minimal, he says.

Rovel predicts that two additional fields will be integrated into the medical profession: "Medicine

Predictive" and "pharma-genomics". Predictive medicine will be used for genetic diagnosis of

Diseases or chances of getting sick, both before pregnancy or birth and in the person

The adult after his genomic map is read. The pharma-genomics will deal

In matching specific drugs to genetic data of patients with diseases

the difference Predictive medicine has already integrated to some extent in services

the medical ones, especially in the prenatal field. Pharma-genomics will go from strength to strength

The more useful genetic information.

"At the same time as developing these and other areas," says Ravel, "about the establishment

The medical learn to accept the patient back. Patients are flocking to medicine

The supplement is not because it is an alternative to conventional medicine - because it is

Not alternative - but because conventional medicine is very technical

and scientifically, and turned to the doctor. Hospitals are designed for doctors,

The language is a medical language, and the technology is more familiar to doctors than

for the sick". Another factor that will reduce alienation, says Prof. Ravel, is

Intensive activity of ethics committees in the field of genetics

and biotechnology, to illuminate the human face of these sciences

and show the day-to-day benefit they bring, instead of the focus

The contemporary in what seems "satanic" - reproduction of living beings.

Yossi offers another explanation of what motivates people to choose complementary medicine

Morgenstern, chairman of the Acupuncture Association in Israel and practitioner of Chinese medicine

traditional According to him, people want to take back some of the responsibilities

about themselves. "In Western medicine, the responsibility for the safety and health of the patient

is up to the doctor. If there is a 'breakdown' the doctor corrects it - if it is laser surgery

In the eyes, replacing a damaged organ and transplanting an alternative organ, mastectomy

as prevention or administration of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Western medicine treats

to people as objects that can be repaired, replaced with parts and changed,

And that's what I think people are kicking. The advanced technologies and genetic knowledge

The expanding only increases the distance between the person and the sense of responsibility

And the closeness he has on his body and his condition."

According to Morgenstern, the perception of non-western medicine is one of sharing

The patient in decisions, treatment and dealing with his condition and responsibility for

his health "We don't just poke and press - we talk,

They explain, advise how to change a lifestyle, give hope. A person

Can sometimes heal himself, if he learns what his failures are and where

He can fix it. A western doctor will sometimes give a remedy for a problem, without trying

See if it can be solved with diet, exercise and internal change. the doctor

The holistic will try to work with the patient. Such an approach gives the patient a sense of

Control, responsibility and participation in the treatment and healing process, and this is what is sorely lacking

In the relationship between the Western doctor, with all the systems behind him, and the patient."

Published in "Haaretz" on 02/26/2001

The knowledge website was until 2002 part of the IOL portal from the Haaretz group

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