July 20-25, 2008
Mutagenesis plays a central role in our lives. A low level of mutagenesis is advantageous, and ensures the survival of species by promoting evolution. Programmed mutagenesis of immunoglobulin genes promotes diversity and provides a dynamic defense against invading pathogens. However, many human diseases, including most cancers, arise as a consequence of mutations that occur either spontaneously, or are induced by environmental chemical/physical mutagens. Accumulation of oxidative lesions as a result of normal metabolism has been implicated in premature aging and neurodegeneration. Mutagenesis also drives the evolution of virulent bacterial and viral pathogens, allowing them to evolve resistance to therapeutics and thwart the immune response.
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