It’s only thanks to a mechanism in our cells that can recognize when something has gone wrong that we aren’t all riddled with cancer.
That mechanism, known as the DNA damage response, functions like an individual intelligent agent, able to monitor when things are going wrong and then try to come up with a way to deal with them.
“One of the remarkable properties of nature’s most remarkable molecule, DNA, is self-awareness: it can detect information about its own integrity and transmit that information back to itself,” Elledge [stated].
When this response detects damaged DNA, it can respond in several ways. It may try to repair the damage, but it may also activate the immune system, cause the cell to destroy itself, or trigger a process known as senescence — which helps prevent tumors but is also largely responsible for aging.
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