Every now and then I see something I want to expand upon on CSFD. Today’s is about homeobox functions in living beings.
In essence the homeobox genes are templates. We all use templates on a regular basis. A form is a type of template, as is the XML used to generate most Web 2.0 content.
Homeobox genes are structural in the sense that they don’t tell you how to build an eye for example, but where to put the eye. So it explains why our eyes aren’t on the ends of our fingers. Some flies might protest that fact since experiments have made perfectly functional fly eyes grow on said flies legs.
We’re gradually unlocking the functions of all our genes and in the process finding that we’re related to pretty much all multi-cellular life with the exception of trees and grasses. The only issue I have with all this discovery is the ridiculous notion of patenting a gene.
Patents are completely out of whack these days and we need to reform that system without delay. Otherwise the very processes that keep us alive might be patented, requiring us to pay royalties to the patent holder. Imagine patenting the process that keeps us breathing, or our heart beating. That’s essentially what is happening with the genes that underlie those processes.