Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Twisted Tree of Life Award #12: Billion Year Old Smart Bacteria That Perfectly Treat Cancer

OMG - for crying out loud. In the following story Billion-year-old Bacteria Could be Medical Goldmine Fox News discusses studies of marine cyanobacteria at the University of Florida. It is so wrong in so many ways I do not know where to begin. Watch the video first for layers of trouble. Then, if you dare, read the article. Among the painful parts:

All cyanobacteria are basically lumped together into a single entity

Cyanobacteria are the oldest organisms on earth - billions of years old - which means they must have have evolved amazing chemistry to deter predators. Wow - by the same logic - bacteria in general should be even better - because bacteria are even older than cyanobacteria. And therefore - if one focused on ALL bacteria, we should find even better predator deterring chemicals. Wait - actually - why not target all life. Surely, if cyanobacteria have perfected the art of deterring predators by the fact that they are billions of years old surely the existence of life is proof that there must be some protection against predators and therefore "living organisms" have the best deterrence systems.

Then they make the leap from cyanobacteria surviving for billions of years by deterring predators to - wait for it - wait - hold on - be patient - wait for it - to - yes that is right - deterring "a devastating human predator - cancer." At least they did not reveal that cancer is also billions of years old.

And then, without any further detail, they leap from this insight to that apparently the researchers have found that the cyanobacteria make the nearly perfect anticancer drug that "has a 1-2 punch" to inhibit growth factors and receptors to be extremely potent.

Furthermore they tell us that these cyanobacteria "are valuable because unlike similar species they are smart - targeting bad cells and sparing healthy ones." That is right, the cyanobacteria have been smart enough to target their drugs to human cancer cells - something they must encounter frequently in their marine life.

Oh for f3#*$# sake. I can't even write about this anymore.

I will just give out a well deserved "Twisted Tree of Life" award here. Not sure though who should get it - because it is unclear if this material came from U. Florida or if the station somehow came to it itself.

Past winners include


  1. "...unlike similar species they are smart" -- obviously another case of Fox News looking desperately for another Republican candidate who is Not Romney! A smart bacteria that can cure cancer? Take that, Obama!

  2. This would be a pretty dismal story in a student newspaper, but at least there you could maybe excuse it as a freshman's first attempt at a science story. But apparently this was written by a professional journalist -- one with a doctorate even. Ouch.


Most recent post

My Ode to Yolo Bypass

Gave my 1st ever talk about Yolo Bypass and my 1st ever talk about Nature Photography. Here it is ...