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The New Biology

by Dr. Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., 2001

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Recent advances in cellular science are heralding an important evolutionary turning point. For almost fifty years we have held the illusion that our health and fate were preprogrammed in our genes, a concept referred to as genetic determinacy. Though mass consciousness is currently imbued with the belief that the character of one's life is genetically predetermined, a radically new understanding is unfolding at the leading edge of science.

Cellular biologists now recognize that the environment (external universe and internal-physiology), and more importantly, our perception of the environment, directly controls the activity of our genes. The lecture will broadly review the molecular mechanisms by which environmental awareness interfaces genetic regulation and guides organismal evolution.

The quantum physics behind these mechanisms provide insight into the communication channels that link the mind-body duality. An awareness of how vibrational signatures and resonance impact molecular communication constitutes a master key that unlocks a mechanism by which our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs create the conditions of our body and the external world. This knowledge can be employed to actively redefine our physical and emotional well-being.

Lecture Outline:

Knowledge of the philosophical foundation underlying conventional (allopathic) medicine is relevant for it illuminates why and how the dogma of genetic determinacy was derived.

Francis Bacon defined the mission of modern science shortly after the onset of the scientific revolution (1543). Accordingly, the purpose of science was "to dominate and control Nature." To accomplish that goal, scientists had to first acquire knowledge of what "controls" an organism's structure and function (behavior). Concepts founded in the principles of Newtonian physics defined the experimental approach to this quest. These principles stipulate that the Universe is a "physical mechanism" comprised of parts (matter), there is no attention given to the invisible "energy." In this world view, all that matters is "matter." Consequently, modern science is preoccupied with materialism.

The way to understand how a finely tuned mechanism works is to disassemble it and analyze all of the component "parts." This approach is called reductionism. Through an analysis of the parts and how they interact, defective part(s) in a malfunctioning organism can be identified and either repaired or replaced with "manufactured" parts (drugs, engineered genes, prosthetic devices, etc.). Knowledge of the body's mechanism would enable scientists to determine how an organism works and how to "control" the organism by altering its "parts."

Biologists were preoccupied with taking organisms apart and studying their cells for the first half of this century. Subsequently, cells were disassembled and their molecular "parts" catalogued and characterized. Cells are comprised of four types of large (macro-) molecules: proteins/polysaccharides (sugars)/nucleic acids (gene stuff)/lipids (fats)

The name protein means "primary element" (proteios, Gr.) for proteins are the primary components of all plant and animal cells. A human is made of ~100,000 different proteins. Proteins are linear "chains," whose molecular "links" are comprised of amino acid molecules. Each of the 20 different amino acids has a unique shape, so that when linked together in a chain, the resulting proteins fold into elaborate 3-dimensional "wire sculptures." The protein sculpture's pattern is determined by the sequence of its amino acid links. The balancing of electromagnetic charges along the protein's chain serves to control the "final" shape of the sculpture. The unique shape of a protein sculpture is referred to as its "conformation." In the manner of a lock and key, protein sculptures compliment the shape of environmental molecules (which include other proteins). When proteins interlock with the complementary environmental molecules, they assemble into complex structures (similar to the way cogged "gears" intermesh to make a watch).

When proteins chemically couple with other molecules they change the distribution of electromagnetic charges in the protein. Changes in "charge" cause the protein to change its shape. Therefore, upon coupling with chemicals, a protein's will shift its shape from one conformation to another conformation. A protein generates "motion" as it changes shape. A protein's movement can be harnessed to do "work." Groups of interacting proteins that work together in carrying out a specific function are referred to as "pathways." The activities of specific protein pathways provide for digestion, excretion, respiration, reproduction, and all of the other physiologic "functions" employed by living organisms.

Proteins provide for the organism's structure and function, but random protein actions can not provide for "life." Scientists needed to identify the mechanism that "integrates" protein functions to allow for the complex behaviors. Their search was linked to the fact that proteins are labile (opposite of stabile). Like parts in a car, proteins "wear-out" when they are used. If an individual protein in a pathway wears-out and is not replaced then the action of the pathway will stop. To resume function, the protein must be replaced. Consequently, behavioral functions were thought to be controlled by "regulating" the presence or absence of proteins comprising the pathways. The source of replacement protein parts is related to "memory" factors that provide for heredityÖthe passing on of "character"

The search for the hereditary factors that controlled protein synthesis led to DNA. In 1953, Watson and Crick unraveled the mystery of the "genetic code," which revealed how the DNA served as a molecular "blueprint" that defined amino acid sequences comprising a protein. The DNA blueprint for each protein is referred to as a gene. Since proteins define the character of an organism and the proteins' structures are encoded in the DNA, biologists established the dogma known as the Primacy of DNA. In this context, Primacy means "first level of control." It was concluded that DNA "controls" the structure and behavior of living organisms. Since DNA "determines" the character of an organism, then it is appropriate to acknowledge the concept of Genetic Determinism, the idea that the structure and behavior of an organism are defined by its genes.

Science's materialist-reductionist-determinist philosophy led to the Human Genome Project, the multibillion-dollar program to map all of the genes. Once this is accomplished, it is assumed that we can use that knowledge to repair or replace "defective" genes and in the process, realize Science's mission of "controlling" the expression of an organism.

Since 1953, biologists have assumed that DNA "controls" life. In multicellular animals, the organ that "controls" life is known as the brain. Since genes are presumed to control cellular life, and genes are contained in the cell's nucleus, the nucleus would be expected to be the equivalent of the cell's "brain."

Dispelling the Myth of Genes:

If the brain is removed from any organism, the immediate and necessary consequence of that action isó death of the organism. Removing the cell's nucleus, referred to as enucleation, would be tantamount to removing the cell's brain. Though enucleation should result in the immediate death of the cell, enucleated cells may continue to survive and exhibit a "regulated" control of their biological processes. In fact, cells can live for two or more months without a nucleus. Clearly, the assumption that genes "control" cell behavior is wrong!

As is described by Nijhout (X), genes are "not self-emergent," that is genes can not turn themselves on or off. If genes can't control their own expression, how can they control the behavior of the cell? Nijhout further emphasizes that genes are regulated by "environmental signals." Consequently, it is the environment that controls gene expression. Rather than endorsing the Primacy of DNA, we must acknowledge the Primacy of the Environment!

Cells "read" their environment, assess the information and then select appropriate behavioral programs to maintain their survival. The fact that data is integrated, processed and used to make a calculated behavioral response emphasizes the existence of a "brain" equivalent in the cell. Where is cell's brain? The answer is to be found in bacteria, the most primitive organisms on Earth. The many processes and functions of this unicellular life form are highly integrated, consequently, it must have a brain equivalent. Cytologically, these organisms do not contain any organelles (diminutive of "organs) such as nuclei, mitochondria, Golgi bodies, etc. The only organized structure in these primitive life forms is its "cell membrane," also known as its plasmalemma. The cell membrane, once thought to be like a permeable Saran Wrap that holds the cytoplasm together, actually provides for the bacterium's digestive, respiratory, excretory and integumentary (skin) systems. It also serves as the cell's "brain."

The cell membrane is primarily composed of phospholipids and proteins. Phospholipids, which resemble lollipops with two sticks, are arranged in a crystalline bilayer. The membrane resembles a bread and butter sandwich, wherein the lipid "sticks" form the central butter layer. The phospholipid bilayer forms a skin-like barrier which separates the external environment from the internal cytoplasm.

Built into the membrane are special proteins called Integral Membrane Proteins (IMPs). IMPs look like olives in the membrane's bread and butter sandwich. There are two classes of IMPs: receptors and effectors. Receptors are the cell's "sense" organs, the equivalents of eyes, ears, nose, etc. When a receptor recognizes and binds to a signal, it responds by changing its conformation. Conventional biology stipulates that receptors only respond to "matter" (molecules), a belief consistent with the Newtonian view of the universe as a "matter machine."

Leading edge contemporary cell research has transcended conventional Newtonian physics and is now soundly based upon a universe created out of energy as defined by quantum physics. This new physics emphasizes energetics over materialism, substitutes holism for reductionism, and recognizes uncertainty in place of determinism. Consequently, we now recognize that receptors respond to energy signals as well as molecular signals.

Conventional medicine has consistently ignored research published in its own main-stream scientific journals, research that clearly reveals the regulatory influence that electromagnetic fields have on cell physiology. Pulsed electromagnetic fields have been shown to regulate virtually every cell function, including DNA synthesis, RNA synthesis, protein synthesis, cell division, cell differentiation, morphogenesis and neuroendocrine regulation. These findings are relevant for they acknowledge that biological behavior can be controlled by "invisible" energy forces, which include thought.

When activated by its complementary signal, the protein receptor changes its conformation so that it is able to complex with a specific effector protein. Effector proteins carry out cell behaviors. Effector proteins may be enzymes, cytoskeletal elements (cellular equivalents of muscle and bone) or transporters (proteins that carry electrons, protons, ions, and other specific molecules across the "bread and butter" barrier). Generally effector proteins are inactive in their resting conformation. However, when the receptor binds to the effector protein, it causes the effector to changes its own conformation from an inactive to an active form. This is how an environmental signal activates a cell's behavior. The activity of effector IMPs generally regulate the behaviors of cytoplasmic protein pathways, like those associated with digestion, excretion, and cell movement. If specific functional proteins are not already present in the cell, activated effector IMPs send a signal to the nucleus and elicit required gene programs.

Receptor IMPs "see" or are "aware" of their environment and effector IMPs create physical responses that translate environmental signals into an appropriate biological behavior. The IMP complex controls behavior, and through its affect upon regulatory proteins, these IMPs also control gene expression... The IMP complexes provide the cell with "awareness of the environment through physical sensation," which by dictionary definition represents perception. Each receptor-effector protein complex collectively constitutes a "unit of perception."

A biochemical definition of the cell membrane reads as follows: the membrane is a liquid crystal (phospholipid organization), semiconductor (the only things that can cross the membrane barrier are those brought across by transport IMPs) with gates (receptor IMPs) and channels (effector IMPs). This definition is exactly the same as that used to define a computer chip. Recent studies have verified that the cell membrane is in fact an organic homologue of a silicon chip.

Taken in this context, the cell is a self-powered microprocessor. Simply stated, the cell is an organic computer. The operation of the cell can be easily understood by noting its homology to the computer: the "CPU" (information processing mechanism) is the cell membrane, the keyboard (data entry) are the membrane receptors, the disk (memory) is the nucleus, the screen (data output) is the physical state of the cell. Receptor/effector IMP complexes, the units of "perception," are equivalent to computational bits.

When new, heretofore unrecognized, "signals" enter the environment, the cell creates new perception units to respond to them. New perception units require "new" genes for the IMP proteins. The cell's ability to make new IMP receptors and respond to the new signal with an appropriate survival-oriented response (behavior) is the foundation of evolution. Cells "learn" by making new receptors and integrating them with specific effector proteins. Cellular memory is represented by the "new" genes that code for these proteins. This process enables organisms to survive in ever changing environments.

This learning/evolution mechanism is employed by the immune system. To the immune cell (T-lymphocyte), invasive antigens (e.g., viruses, bacteria, toxins, etc.) represent "new" environmental signals. T-lymphocytes create protein antibodies that complement and bind to the antigens. Antibodies are "receptors" for they specifically recognize their antigen "signal." Protein antibody structure is encoded in genes (DNA). In making new antibodies, cells "create" new genes.

A cell's awareness of the environment is reflected in its receptor population. In single-celled organisms (bacteria, protozoa and algae), the cell's receptors respond to all survival-related environmental signals. These signals include elements of the physical environment (light, gravity, temperature, salts, minerals, etc.), food (nutrients, other organisms), and life-threatening agents (toxins, parasites, predators, etc.).

In multicellular organisms, the cells evolved additional receptors required for "community" identity and integration. Integration receptors respond to information signals (hormones, growth factors) used to coordinate functions in cell communities. A special group of receptors confer "identity" so that members of the cellular community can collectively respond to a "central" command. Identity receptors are referred to as "self receptors," or "histocompatibility receptors." Self-receptors are used by the immune system to distinguish "self" from invasive organisms. Organs or tissues can not be exchanged unless they bear the same self-receptors as the recipient.

When a perception unit recognizes an environmental signal, it will activate a cell function. Though there are hundreds of behavioral functions expressed by a cell, all behaviors can be classified as either growth or protection responses. Cells move toward growth signals and away from life-threatening stimuli (protection response). Since a cell can not move forward and backward at the same time, a cell can not be in growth and protection at the same time. At the cellular level, growth and protection are mutually exclusive behaviors. This is true for human cells as well. If our tissues and organs perceive a need for protection, they will compromise their growth behavior. Chronic protection leads to a disruption of the tissue and its function.

What happens if a cell experiences a stressful environment but does not have a gene program (behavior) to deal with the stress? It is now recognized that cells can "rewrite" existing gene programs in an effort to overcome the stressful condition. These DNA changes are mutations. Until recently, all mutations were thought to be "random," meaning that the outcome of the mutation could not be directed. It is now recognized that environmental stimuli can induce "adaptive" mutations that enable a cell to specifically alter its genes. Furthermore, such mutations may be mediated by an organism's perception of its environment. For example, if an organism "perceives a stress that is actually not there, the misperception can actually change the genes to accommodate the "belief."

In conclusion: The structure of our bodies are defined by our proteins. Proteins represent physical complements of the environment. Consequently, our bodies are physical compliments of our environment. IMP perception units in the cell's membrane convert the environment into awareness. Reception of environmental signals change protein conformations. The "movement" generated by protein shape changes is harnessed by the cell to do "work." Life (animation) results from protein movements which are translated as "behavior." Cells respond to perception by activating either growth or protection behavior programs. If the necessary behavior-providing proteins are not present in the cytoplasm, the IMP perception units can activate expression of appropriate genes in the cell's nucleus.

"Perceptions" lie between the environment and cell expression. If our perceptions are accurate, the resulting behavior will be life enhancing. If we operate from "misperceptions," our behavior will be inappropriate and will jeopardize our vitality by compromising our health.

— Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.

Literature Cited....and Additional Good References:

These references are organized into subject categories and serve as references to related information. Relevance of each article enclosed in parentheses. Most references are from the journal Science, this source is present in almost all local libraries and schools of higher learning. Articles with an * are written for general reading audiences.

* Physics and Biology:

New Concepts Regarding Gene Expression and Mutation:

Transcription: from information to gene action

Epigenetics: (Environmental "programming" of genes)


Membrane Structure/Function:

Information in Biology:

Creating new perception proteins: the antibody as a model system

Stem Cells:

Multipotential (embryo-like) cells used in "regenerate" tissues and organs in adults

Electromagnetics and Cell Behavior:

Environment and Behavior:

(also see Conscious Parenting section below)

Growth/Protection Mechanism:



Brain Influences:

Neural Plasticity:

Conscious Parenting:

Stress and Biology:

© 2001-2005 by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D. Visit his website at: