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Revista Medica Herediana

Print version ISSN 1018-130X


MENDOZA-REVILLA, Javier. Contributions of phylogenetics to medical research. Rev Med Hered [online]. 2012, vol.23, n.2, pp.119-127. ISSN 1018-130X.

Despite its recent incorporation into medical research, evolutionary biology has contributed significantly in the understanding of the origin, development and maintenance of many important human diseases. Research on infectious diseases, such as antibiotic resistance is a clear example of this. It has also changed the way we see and understand our bodies, as well as their vulnerability to certain types of illnesses. Other areas of research such as cancer therapeutics, mental disorders and aging have begun to benefit from adopting an evolutionary perspective. More precisely, phylogenetics, as a discipline of evolutionary biology, has proved itself an efficient tool for discovering the origins of many diseases and thus determine which strains have higher likelihood of spreading. This article aims to provide a basic understanding of what phylogenetic trees are and how to interpret them. Physicians who can understand these methods will undoubtedly be better prepared to comprehend the growing literature that addresses this type of approach derived from evolutionary biology.

Keywords : Medical research; evolution; genetics.

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