October 26, 2008
In her first policy speech, Sarah Palin talked about autism and disabilities and somehow – not accidentally, these were prepared remarks – somehow managed to knock the science that will someday lead to cures and preventions. I kid you not:
“You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.”
And in Paris even! The horror. Change it to Freedom Fly and then maybe it’d be acceptable.
Hitchens passing judgment (and even Larry King chides a guest and says “this isn’t funny”):
Here’s what fruit flies (anyone whose read a biology book, and you can be sure she hasn’t, is aware of their uses) have done for us (from here):
Progress in autism research. On of the points of her talk. Doesn’t she want to find a cure or a prevention?
Cancer research. Indeed, fruit fly research has led to critical advances in the treatment of colon cancer and possibly all cancers.
And work on increasing the life-span of fruit flies may have benefits in slowing ageing in humans.
And what makes the fruit fly so ubitiquous in medical research?
Chiang Ann-shyn – director of the Institute of Biotechnology and director of the Brain Research Center at National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu City, Taiwan – explains in this article:
‘One reason fruit flies were used was the similarities between their genes and human genes, Chiang explained. Although a fruit fly carries only around 135,000 genes, which might seem few in comparison to a human being’s 4 billion genes, a large number of genes that suffer from human genetic disorders can be found in the fruit fly. “Flies are cheap to breed, and their genes can be manipulated quickly,” he declared. Moreover, better understanding of genes would allow scientists to search faster for novel therapeutic drugs for healing diseases like Alzheimer’s, he added.’