Our Left-Handed World – Part 2

Yesterday I began to talk about the natural world of healing and the story of trying to copy molecules from the natural world to synthesize drugs in the laboratory. We talked briefly about Pasteur’s discovery of chirality and how most molecules in the world are left-handed. When molecules are produced in the laboratory some come out right-handed and this may or may not have devastating side effects.

Back in the 1950s when I was a child running newspapers house to house, I remember seeing pictures in those newspapers of babies with malformed limbs–flippers instead of hands and feet. These were the thalidomide babies. Pregnant women were taking thalidomide for morning sickness. They thought the drug was safe because the German drug industry did not know the right-handed molecular form was going to cause defects in left-handed biology, the woman’s unborn child. Unfortunately, it took the thalidomide babies to bring the havoc that right-handed molecules can wreak, to the light. Now scientists had to figure out how to remedy this problem.

It was not until William Knowles began playing around with rhodium in 1968 and hit upon the chiral rhodium catalyst that the mass production of left-handed molecules was realized and the beginning of modern drug synthesis began. A wonderful history of the entire development of synthetic drugs, with all of its twists and turns, epiphanies and disappointments, can be found in Chapter 10 of Sam Kean’s book The Disappearing Spoon.

It causes me to wonder on this Walking with Him Wednesday about all the mysteries of the natural world. I guess we won’t know all  until we reach heaven and then we won’t need a pharmacy. I am grateful, however, that God has provided answers within His creation, that He has not forsaken us. He could have. We were the ones that chose disease. He made us perfect. Appropriately in Colossians 2:2 Paul says, “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.” The more I know about the natural world, the more I am convinced of a grand design, and that grand design shouts, “I love you!”

We’re heading toward Good Friday, and I shout with Tony Campolo, “but, Easter is coming!”



6 comments on “Our Left-Handed World – Part 2

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog via Ann Voskamp! I liked your suggestion of visiting those who post before and after. So, here I am. A somewhat kindred spirit — professor and Christ follower. I love how science draws us in towards Christ and the awe of God’s creation. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! –Godspeed, Elizabeth

  2. “The more I know about the natural world, the more I am convinced of a grand design, and that grand design shouts, “I love you!” Dawn, I love this statement! How true it is! The grand design DOES shout it out, too. It doesn’t just sort of calmly say it. There is so much love being shouted creation.

    • A.,

      From red sunsets, to ocean sprays, to dew-sparkled spider webs. From hot sandy beaches, to surprises in geodes, to soft shih-tzu fur. Creation SHOUTS! How rich we all are! It belongs to all of us! What a wonder!

      Tonight when I see the moon, I’ll think about you seeing it, too. Isn’t that great?

    • it is wall photo #6 about the flooding and the spider cocoons in the trees….
      they say,”The Silver Lining, The Spider Webs! An unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters. Because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water has taken so long to recede, many trees have become cocooned in spiders webs. People in this part of Sindh have never seen this phenome…non before but, they also report that there are now far fewer mosquitoes than they would expect, given the amount of stagnant, standing water that is around. It is thought that the mosquitoes are getting caught in the spiders web, thus, reducing the risk of malaria, which would be one blessing for the people of Sindh, facing so many other hardships after the floods…!!!

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