When a person dies, why doesn't the body repair itself? Naked Scientist answers

Chris Smith also known as The Naked Scientist joins the Eusebius McKaiser Show every Friday and does his best to take and answer questions either on science or just about anything under the sun from both 702 and CapeTalk listeners.

This week's science story: Responding to cancer treatment

Whether a cancer patient responds to certain treatments is dictated by the bacteria they carry in their intestines, US scientists have discovered. Cancer cells have damaged DNA, which causes them to disobey the normal rules and controls that govern their growth and behaviour.

Cancer is very important, it affects about one person in every three in the population and therefore trying to develop treatments for it and work out how to make the treatments we do have work as well as they can do is a high priority.

The Naked Scientist

One new kid on the biological block for treating cancer is what's called “immunotherapy". This is where you give various treatments that persuade the immune system to start attacking cancer to cure people.

The Naked Scientist

In some people it works incredibly well and there have been people cured from malignant melanoma (skin cancer) in the past using this technique says The Naked Scientist adding that in other patients the treatment was less effective.

Can the speed of light be exceeded?

David, caller

The Naked Scientist says Einstein once said that the speed limit in the universe is the speed of light and therefore you cannot go faster than that.

If I cut my finger, the cut will close by itself. If i give someone parts of my liver, it will sort of grow back. Why do people die then if the body repairs itself?

Marius

When you make a trivial injury to your skin like a cut, it can repair itself because the skin has stem cells underneath the damaged area and is capable of growing rapidly, explains The Naked Scientist.

He adds that if a more complicated part of the body is damaged, then you no longer have one simple type of cell which are all needed to be produced by different stem cells following a different pattern.

He goes on to say if that underlying pattern is disrupted then there is no template for the stem cells to follow so they don't easily regenerate the missing body parts.

If there is a speed of light, why is there no speed of darkness?

Theo, caller

The Naked Scientists responds by saying darkness is what there is when there is no light.

Listen to the clip below to hear more of the Naked Scientists answers to your questions:


This article first appeared on 702 : When a person dies, why doesn't the body repair itself? Naked Scientist answers


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