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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.

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Comments

chipuni
Dec. 22nd, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
Viruses work because our cells contain machinery which will read, accept, and translate any RNA strands they see into proteins.

1. Things like viruses "shouldn't" have been able to enter the cell itself. Each cell is surrounded by a cell wall, which has protein receptors that determine whether something should be able to enter the cell.

2. Even when a virus is inside a cell, cells have some protection in lysosomes. These organelles DO the code-signing that you're looking for, and digest things that they don't recognize (like viruses).

3. Feel free to describe a code signing algorithm that's as parallelizable as what our cells use to replicate RNA.


Edited at 2008-12-22 10:19 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Dec. 23rd, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
Actually, only plant and some fungus species have a cell wall. All others only have a semi-permeable cell membrane which is where the protein receptors are located. Viruses bypass the protein receptors entirely and inject their nucleic acid of choice by chemically splitting a section of the membrane itself.
tacit
Dec. 23rd, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
A simple code-signing mechanism might be a "primer string" attached to each molecule of mRNA that prepares a ribosome for translation; absent the primer string, the RNA won't be translated. It wouldn't take much rejiggering; strands of mRNA coding for specific protiens already carry pre-defined START and STOP codons. Make the START codon longer and species-specific and there you go! Viral RNA carries conventional START codons but without the correct "extended START" codon it wouldn't be translated--the ribosome simply wouldn't recognize it as valid.