Modern Medicine

What causes apoptosis?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Apoptosis can happen as a result of normal development. A fetus, for example, starts life with excess webbing on the hands and the feet and only receives 10 fingers and 10 toes because of the apoptosis of that tissue. It can also be a protective mechanism. When cells are infected with viruses or become subjected to DNA damage, they will self-destruct to avoid harming the rest of the body. Sometimes, though, the wrong cells undergo apoptosis due to miscommunication between the triggers that tell a cell to live and the triggers that tell a cell to die. Scientists are hoping to learn to program those triggers so they can avoid cellular-based conditions such as AIDS and Parkinson's disease.

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