cancer, covid and the immune system

At first glance viral infections and cancer seem to have little in common. However, they both could be thought of as being genetic diseases.

What is a virus but a small piece of genetic material (DNA or RNA) wrapped up in a protein envelope. Once this “letter” is sent and received by the cell, the envelope is opened and the viral genetic material inserts itself into the human DNA and turns the cell into a virus factory.

Cancer is caused by a genetic mutation which occurs in a normal cell and transforms it into a malignant cell which will multiply, spread and invade.

The immune system has the ability to detect and eradicate both the cancer cell and the virus. Unfortunately, the immune system sometimes fails to recognize the malignant cell or the virus in which case the disease may progress.

What’s a body to do?

Fortunately, we humans have made remarkable progress in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. We as a species have evolved to the place where we can sequence and translate the genome of both the human cell and the virus.

Because of these extraordinary advances we now have novel vaccines which utilize a part of the virus gene called messenger RNA. These new messenger RNA vaccines can instruct our immune system to recognize and prevent viral Covid 19 infection and appear to be greater than 90% effective.

We also have developed new anti-cancer therapies such as Nivolumab and Ipilumumab and CAR t cells which can give our immune system the ability to recognize and irradicate cancer cells.

As I contemplate the biology of life including the genetic sequences of viruses and cancer cells I am filled with a feeling of awe and wonder. Every cell and even the tiny virus possesses a language, a type of meaning or purpose, an ability to communicate and interact.

As a member of the human species I am also filled with awe and wonder because we posses a consciousness and rational mind which can comprehend such mysteries. It is said we are made in the image of God. Perhaps in some primordial time before we were formed in our mother’s womb we existed in the mind of God. I believe that we possess a mind or consciousness like that of God which knows no limits and whose ultimate destiny may be to return to its source.

In the meantime, perhaps God is sending us a message. He wants once again to reveal himself to us. He may also want to make us aware of the “cancers” and “viruses” that exist in our own lives and He wants to give us the cure. He speaks to us through his creation. He speaks to our minds through his Spirit. He speaks through prophets and saints both in the Bible and throughout history. In a multitude of ways He reveals His being, truth, beauty and love to us. If only we can hear and obey the language of God.

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