Tim Harford: Trial, error and the VV complex


An interesting talk….. What do you think?

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  • Isaac Newton used it to find the zeroes of functions, when numerical methods were not available. In Medicine we are still at this stage.

  • You should know that genetic algorithms (trial & error) require both enormous time and resources especially when applied to medicine. If you really suggest that this is a way to go for solving MS, then you should warn your readers to be extremely patient, because you will be trying and failing on their backs.

    • What you say would be correct if the drugs to be tried wwre picked purely at random. Not if they are chosen intelligently

    • Anon, any particular reason why MS should be treated with drugs? It still is a disease of unknown aetiology. Could be more like myopia.

    • Why I don't think it could be 'more like myopia':

      – It runs in families with the other so-called 'autoimmune' problems
      – The genes that increase MS risk are in the same areas as those that increase the risk of these other problems
      – These genes 'determine how white blood cells recognise targets to attack'

      Are you suggesting a structural cause for all 'autoimmune' diseases?

      Also: the incidence of MS is increasing and the sex ratio is changing. I don't see how that can fit with the 'Problems in CSF and blood flow' theory.

  • Anon, i agree with the first statement, have no knowledge on the second, and totally disagree with the third.

    Genes are not exactly a blueprint. The same gene can participate in numerous processes. in the same region with the MS risk genes there are also others that take part in angiogenesis (http://www.fondazionehilarescere.org/pdf/ferlini-etal-2010-final.pdf). So, no one can claim that certain genes "determine" something.

    I don't know if the compartmentalization of the CNS in MS can explain all related diseases also. All i know is that it can certainly explain some forms of thyroid disease.

    Regarding the increase in MS incidence, no one can tell with certainty. Maybe there are more and earlier diagnoses now. I' m not aware of any change in sex ratio. If there really is it could also be explained the same way. Tell me what you know about it.

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