Monthly Archives: November 2014

Outbreak of Ebola will not be the last global epidemic, time to hit the reset button on how we treat it

Outbreak of Ebola and Global Epidemics

Dr. Bill Miller

The outbreak of Ebola will not be the last global epidemic. I recently was interviewed by Jeanine Prezioso of Reuters concerning this subject. The original article appeared here —


Ebola will not be the last global epidemic. It is, however, the first to spread as we hop on planes, rely on oil and chocolate from far flung locales and blindly lean on modern medicine’s ability to control and kill the very pathogens that live among us.

Now is the time to hit the reset button on our approach to viral outbreaks. While it’s taken health agencies, drug makers and the public-at-large time to wake up to the current spread of the deadly virus in Africa, there’s no time like the present to prepare for the next outbreak, Dr. Bill Miller, a physician and author of “The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome” said in an interview on Thursday.

A hologenome is essentially an organism’s sum of its parts, a combination of its cells and all the microbes (bacteria and viruses) that live within it. It’s the bacteria in your gut that helps your body break down food and the cold virus that makes you sick.

Ebola is just another microbe in a long list of those that seek to destroy its host, Miller says. His theories are a challenge to die-hard Darwinists, who, in turn, have challenged him. He has studied the intersection between immunology and infectious disease and says “our evolutionary narrative is different from Darwinian natural selection alone.”

Ebola, meanwhile, is thinning out the population in three West African nations. The U.N. World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest figures on Wednesday showed at least 4,877 people out of 9,936 confirmed cases have died in the outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. By many accounts those numbers may be conservative.

“The the single most important element of our health and success as individuals and species is how we cope with infectious diseases,” Miller told the Global Markets Forum. “Quarantine and isolation are really the only tools we have to deal with a pathogen such as Ebola since there is no generally available treatment other than supportive care and no vaccine.”

A lack of trained and available doctors to treat the infected at the virus’s epicenter and contain it is a big issue. Healthcare workers in contact with patients who have the virus run a higher risk of catching it. A doctor who returned to New York after treating Ebola-infected patients in Guinea was rushed to the hospital on Thursday with symptoms of the virus and tested positive for it later in the day.

Thomas Eric Duncan, who was visiting the U.S. from Liberia last month, was diagnosed with the virus in Dallas, Texas, and died earlier this month. A small outbreak in Nigeria was contained and a nurse in Spain was cured of the virus. The U.S. imposed screenings at major airports and six people who recently arrived to Connecticut from West Africa have been placed under quarantine.

Ebola is not known to spread in an airborne manner between humans, Miller said. It is “never impossible but very unlikely”. Miller’s recommendations for containing the outbreak are not far off from the protocols health and government officials have already put in place, i.e. setting up a team of infectious disease experts to assess individual cases. Also on hand should be a “core of highly trained individuals to come into any discrete area,” he said.

Miller called on researchers to speed up the study of the patterns of the disease and to streamline vaccine research. Big pharmaceutical companies are in the process of developing vaccines but want protection from legal entanglements. On Friday, the WHO said it expects to have 200,000 doses of Ebola vaccine available by the middle of next year.

“In the end, it is likely the big drug makers will be the ones that come out ahead. They have the budgets to do the expensive research, and they can buy any of the small ones that are initial leaders that succeed despite the odds,” he said.

All epidemics eventually burn out, Miller added.

“One day, this Ebola outbreak will just be a notation in the history books. And likely not nearly the most consequential, that is unless we exercise some foresight and this becomes that moment when a global partnership in common stewardship and joint need eventuates and we go forward with a very much improved international system.”

Biological Complexity, A Result of the Hologenomic Evolution Theory

What produces biological complexity, novelty or impels the origin of species? When examined through all available contemporary evidence, the expression of novel phenotype and metabolic function emerges from processes other than natural selection and fitness as they have been traditionally assessed.

To best understand this issue, it is useful to closely consider a facet that is often overlooked in general discussions of evolutionary development. The case for natural selection dominating in evolutionary development can only be sustained if it is concomitantly presumed that variation is only random. In the circumstance in which organic variation is simply random, then abundant changes to a reproductive entity can be consistent with a path that builds alternative organic outcomes. Yet, even in this particular case, there would be no necessity for increasing complexity or useful novelty, since a random mechanism might just as easily go off in any direction. The barriers are obvious. Hence, an entire assembly of addenda to natural selection theory such as sexual selection mechanisms has been advanced to try to rescue Darwinism from this conundrum.

Once it is perceived that evolution is not entirely random and perhaps not even fundamentally so, then the centrality of natural selection is displaced. Clearly, if evolution is subject to any non-random agency, it is that explicit process that becomes the proximate force and dominant agency in evolution and supplants natural selection. It really is that simple. A direct choice is required; random or not? If evolution is non-random to any extent, then natural selection is simply a participatory agency within a more encompassing process.

Hologenomic evolution theory asserts that evolution is subject to both random and non-random forces. The non-random aspects relate to the activity of cells that are aware within their scope and scale. This faculty energizes cellular and genetic engineering as a non-random set of complex reactions to environmental influences through cell-cell interactions. These relationships build in intricate layers of both genetic and non-genic interchange, thereby enacting complexity and novel solutions to environmental stresses through collaborative, cooperative and competitive cellular networks.  Speciation emanates from these same cellular interchanges as immunological events that separate one set of cellular networks from another. Immunology ultimately governs all cellular relationships and it is these immunological factors that separate differing cellular ecologies from one another from which new species can emerge.

Natural selection acts precisely at the initiation of novel cellular expression from inter-cellular processes and genetic interchanges. At that moment, natural selection acts implacably to assure that only the ‘fit enough to survive’ do so. Importantly though, it acts specifically at the immunological level first, and the phenotypic level after. After all, reproduction is itself an immunological event and all inter-cellular exchanges are governed by immunological rules.

Thus, natural selection does not drive speciation, complexity or novelty. It acts instead as a filter of biologic outcomes as new species aggregates emerge through both random and non-random cellular interactions.  It also acts to maintain any species once present in its attempt to successfully react to an ever-changing environment by encouraging the expression of phenotypic variety from within an underlying capacious genome. All complex organisms are expressions of this coordinated cellular activity. It is innate cellular awareness that enables complex networks of co-linked and collaborative cellular ecologies. Hologenomic organisms are their product. All complex organisms on this planet are hologenomes. There are no exceptions. There are non-random reasons for it.