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1. Advancing cancer research. Studies suggest tumors are made up of lots of genetically different cells that compete and cooperate with each other using the rules of evolution. This information is helping researchers change and improve cancer therapy.
2. Battling antibiotic resistance. By 2050, superbugs and germs that don’t respond to antibiotics could be deadlier to humans than cancer. Evolutionary science is leading to new insights into how medicine can adapt.
3. Understanding autoimmune diseases. Women are less likely to get cancer but more likely to get autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The way the female body has evolved to accommodate pregnancy may explain why this happens and offer clues for new treatments in both cancer and autoimmune cases.
4. Identifying risk factors of diabetes and heart disease. The healthiest hearts ever studied are those of the Bolivian Amazon’s Tsimané tribe, who live as our hunter-gatherer ancestors once did. That knowledge is being used to better understand how the industrialized world impacts rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
5. Offering new perspectives on treatment. DNA research suggests modern human ancestors bred with a related human species. That information gives new hints about where modern diseases came from and can be used to come up with novel targets for treatment.