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Still sick...

...and I've got just two words for that. Code signing.

Seriously. Code signing.

Viruses work because our cells contain machinery which will read, accept, and translate any RNA strands they see into proteins. Any RNA strands they see. Including RNA strands injected into our cells from viruses, or RNA strands transcribed from DNA injected into our cells from viruses.

Which is, from a security standpoint, pretty fracking stupid.

Code signing, I'm telling you. If our genetic material were signed with some sort of unique code that means "yes, this really does come from us, it's safe to translate this RNA and build this protein," and the transcribing and translating machinery would refuse to process RNA that wasn't signed, then viruses could inject their bits into our cells from now 'til Doomsday and it wouldn't mean diddly.

Code signing. Just one more reason why if we were designed by some Grand Creator, he wasn't very good at his job.



Dec. 22nd, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
What we need is RNA restriction endonucleases. Bacteria evolved DNA restriction enzymes for precisely the function you mention, although they took the "negative" approach; i.e., to slice up foreign DNA molecules that do have a particular nucleotide sequence that the host cell lacks. However, they only work on double-stranded DNA.
Dec. 23rd, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
That's a great idea! Custom-tailor an enzyme to recognize certain potentially harmful sequences in a strand of RNA and chop it to pieces before it gets translated.

RNA carrying the sequence for reverse transcriptase would be a logical bet, since reverse transcriptase is not (to my knowledge) coded for or used anywhere in our cells. If you see it, you know it's from a retrovirus.