Polarity genes help direct the flow of nutrients throughout cells, helping them support and join up with each other. Think of them as being the opposite of politicians: Polarity genes actually bring things together in harmony.
These genes can cause cells to combine together so concretely that they can also form and create "opposing patterns." These opposing patterns have a similar reaction that occurs when you put two opposite magnets together. In the human body, a sign of these opposing patterns is a cowlick.
Polarity genes are a great thing for your body. However, they can be destroyed when cancer cells move in and metastasize. Think of your polarity genes as a glistening skyline, then the Hulk cancer comes in and smashes it all up.
Some researchers from Michigan State University decided to test a group of fruit flies to determine just what controls these polarity genes. Turns out it's a protein called retinoblastoma that's usually used to suppress the eye cancer tumors in children.
In fruit flies, these polarity genes that help bind and control good cells are actually controlled by a protein that suppresses cancer growth. It's like the polarity genes are construction workers and the retinoblastoma is the foreman, guiding them and telling them what to build.
It turns out that retinoblastoma is actually part of a larger family of "cell guardians" that regulate DNA repair, cell reproduction and other cancer-fighting tools. However, this is all the case for fruit flies, not humans... yet.
The researchers at MSU noted that the high genetic similarity in fruit flies and humans could mean that humans are likely to respond to these cancer fighting proteins as well. If the researchers are right it could open the doors for a slew of new cancer treatments.
"Until now, people neglected the regulation of polarity genes, thinking them to be regulated in a rather humdrum manner similar to `housekeeping' genes that are devoted to basic cellular functions," said David Arnosti, MSU. "Our work challenges this view and raises an important question relevant to development of new cancer diagnosis and therapies."
So, to sum it all up in non-scientific terms, if you have a cowlick, then that means your body might also be able to create really strong, healthy genetic structures within your body that could possibly aid in its fight against cancer cells. Now just repeat that to yourself next time you wake up 20 minutes late and your cowlick is out of control.