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"Is there a doctor/biologist/chemist in the house?"

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"Is there a doctor/biologist/chemist in the house?"

Postby fuddy » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:23 am

People discover that the egg-mass of an animal is deliciously sweet (I know, but it's sci fi). The all indulge, w/ no ill effect.
But their children are born addicted to it, & withdrawal symptoms are devastating both phychologically & physically, & each year they require more & more to stave them off.

The cure turns out to be the gel surrounding the egg-mass. It must be held in the mouth a while (like B-12, to bypass break-down by the liver).

Might this be medically feasible? Any suggestions? (ohpleaseohplease)
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Postby Spiderkeg » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:48 am

Hmm, keeping something in the mouth that can be consumed (i.e. biodegradable) can cause serious problems in the mouth.

Example: People who chew tobacco for years can eventually develop rot or cancer of the mouth.
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Postby RHFay » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:57 am

How about someone with a B.S. in Biology?

Caviar is basically fish eggs, and is considered to be a delicacy, so I find it very plausible that people could discover a similar delicacy elsewhere. People eat some strange things like sheep guts, roasted ants, insect secretions (i.e. honey), and so on.

Cigarette smoking, among other addictions, can alter the genetics of a smoker's offspring, so again, the addiction displayed by the children may be feasible. Though, I think there would be some sort of addiction displayed by the parents as well, perhaps just not as severe (the children are pre-programmed to be addicts, perhaps).

Tobacco causes mouth cancer because of it's range of carcinogens. That could be an angle used with the cure, but it's not necessary. Finding the cure in the same source as the addiction is an interesting twist, and may have some slim scientific basis. The egg-mass could contain a smaller dose of the addictive substance, that could wean the addict off. Or, it could contain a counter-agent, so predators don't naturally become addicted to the eggs.

On the other hand, a wider search for a cure might make an interesting story in and of itself...

Cheers!
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Postby Spiderkeg » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:04 am

Some animals have been known to eat certain plants and foods, digest, and excrete substances which people find useful (medicines) or a delicacy (shudder). Why not that as a twisted avenue? :wink:
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Postby shadow » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:15 am

Perhaps you might want to look into the effects of maternal cocaine use on newborns? "Crack babies" are said (among a great number of other health issues) to exhibit withdrawal-like symptoms, so I don't think it's unreasonable to assume they would have problems at birth. If then they were given more of the substance to assuage the problem, it could feed back into the addiction, and thus set up the scenario you would like.
I agree that I would include some kind of addiction in the parents, but they don't have to necessarily realize it, as many addicts are blind to their problems.

By consuming the gel, they could block the same neuro sensors, dulling the pleasure, maybe, but also the addiction? (Sort of like methadone?)
Hope this helps!
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Postby fuddy » Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:35 am

Here it is in more detail:
A group of humans make it to an island after crashing on another planet. They inadvertently infect the natives w/ human diseases (no immunity), & the few surviving natives (vengefully) give tasty but pathogen-infested fish eggs to the humans, in hopes of killing them off. (The pathogen could be a parasite, or an algae, or... )

The delicious eggs have no ill effect until late in the original partaker’s lifespan, but their children are born fully addicted to it, symptoms showing up at puberty. The withdrawal symptoms are psychologically & physically devastating, & each year this 2nd generation needs more & more to stave off the symptoms.

The microscopic pathogen, making it’s home exclusively within the eggs, developed this deadly addictive quality in order to eliminate any animals that would otherwise eat the eggs. (A mass of gel forms around the eggs in the fish’s body, encapsulating them (& the pathogen) to ’wall it off’ from migrating out, & addicting & killing it‘s host.)

The pathogen migrates into the embryonic reproductive system of the young egg-bound fish just before they hatch out, and so the next generation of fish(eggs) become host to this nasty thing - this happens within humans as well, but lacking the protective gel, humans are wide open to the spread of the pathogen throughout their bodies.

The humans eventually discover that the addiction’s cure is something in the active ‘blocking’ factor in the gel, that a quantity of gel must be held in the mouth for, say, fifteen minutes to effectively ’poison’ the pathogen (this pathogen-killing factor is absorbed through the mucous membranes, like sub-lingual B-12, to bypass break-down by the liver).

Without going to med scxhool for ten years, where should I go to research this, explain enough science behind it to make it plausible (if possible)??
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Postby shadow » Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:55 am

Well - a basic text book in virology and/or toxicology might be a good place to start.

A couple questions though - if the natives' intent is to kill off the invaders, isn't that an awfully slow way to do it? If they are trusting enough to eat what is given - why not a quick acting poison? If such a complex pathogen/toxin has evolved, it seems strange to think that there wouldn't be a few more simple poisons occurring elsewhere. If the natives are in true danger - it doesn't seem in their best interest to wait a generation or two.

And, while I find the symbiotic (or semi-parasitic) relationship between the pathogen and the fish plausible - if the purpose of the pathogen is to "to eliminate any animals that would otherwise eat the eggs" why would it addict predators to doing just that?
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Postby Spiderkeg » Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:00 am

Y'know, there was an episode of Star Trek in which two worlds shared a very fine balance of trade... one planet had an addiction, the other planet supplied the cure.

I don't recall the specifics, but I can summarize the idea. Planet 1 had a disease, and Planet 2 supplied the cure. However, over time, the cure became an addiction even after the disease was destroyed. So Planet 2 continued to make the cure, now the drug, to Planet 1.

An interesting twist would be to have the habitants looking to be cured of the drug to use this gel on a somewhat regular basis in order to starve the affects of withdrawal. Heh, the people could literally brush their teeth with the gel which gets dissolved into the blood stream... plus it keeps your teeth white.
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Postby fuddy » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:14 pm

(1) - the few remaining natives(a simple, fishing/agrarian culture) introduce the humans to the eggs to get the pathogen
into ALL of them, knowing they'll all eventually die out, without seeing it coming. The natives, though not 'rocket scientists', are very patient, & in the extremity of their situation & limited access to anything else, it's all that comes to mind to do.

(2) - the pathogen 'sets out' to addict any egg-predatory animals in order to eliminate that species entirely from the environment - like the humans, it also is very patient, and the results very thorough & permanent. (it's almost scary how even the simplest life-forms act nearly 'sentient' in things like this)

(3) - I remember that episode, Spider! - and I'm still playing w/ the idea of the gel just staving off the symptoms. I need a B.S. in biology or something, a fluid understanding of how it all works. Time to hit the books I guess, so I don't come across as having a B.S. in BS. Thanks, man (&wo-man)
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