Re: viruses?

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 06:48:46 MST

On Mon, 24 Jan 2000, Eugene Leitl wrote:

> Elizabeth Childs writes:
> > And that's an interesting question, because we may some day have the power
> > to do it. And if the answer is "no," then it would be in human being's
> Do you have a practical proposal for that (destruction of all
> viruses)? And wouldn't the technology for that (if indeed viable and
> selective (melting Earth's crust is certainly not selective)) make wet
> biology profoundly obsolete?

I would tend to agree that eradicating all viruses would be difficult
because so many have animal "pools" that they break out of. You might
do in space as we migrate there. However, it does seem feasible
to design genome and immune system "patches" that make us effectively
immune to all known viruses (anti-sense RNA for the viruses, pre-programmed
antibody manufacture, etc.).

> Postbiological ecologies will have their own parasites, and will be
> equally powerless to shed them.

Are you refering to all the old data on my hard drives?

> > interests to destroy all viruses.
> Some of the viruses are probably beneficial, at least on the long run
> (coevolution boosts fitness).

Well since retroviruses seem to play an important role in genome
shuffling, I would imagine that if you engineered in "anti-retroviral"
patches (an anti-retrovirus virus anyone?) that you would slow down
evolution signifcantly. Whether that is good or bad depends on how
much of a preservationist vs. laissez faire type you happen to be.


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