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Is Alias Realistic?

Discussion in 'Alias' started by kiki81ny, Apr 9, 2003.

  1. kiki81ny

    kiki81ny Rocket Ranger

    Dec 9, 2002
    New York
    From the Genome News Network- A popular television show has drawn on genomics for story lines this season. "Alias" features Sydney Bristow, a modern day superwoman and double-agent who works for the CIA and, until recently, a fictional agency known as SD-6. With the series venturing into the realm of genomics, we asked: Are the lastest twists and turns the stuff of fiction or reality?

    The idea of using gene therapy to create human doubles, which aired earlier this season, seems far-fetched to most scientists. But a recent episode that involved mining a genome data base—presumably to design a pathogen to target a specific enemy based on his genome sequence—may be within the bounds of possibility.

    In Episode 18, "Truth Takes Time," the CIA speculates that bad-guy Arvin Sloane and former head of SD-6 is hatching a plan to bring an enemy out of hiding. Knowing the enemy's general whereabouts, Sloane will spread an airborne virus that will be benign to everyone except his enemy, they suspect.

    To do this, of course, Sloane needs to know his enemy's genome sequence, which is stored in a database. Sydney's task is to intercept the data that her mother, working for Sloane, is trying to steal. Fortunately, Sydney succeeds in her mission and the world is saved, at least until the next episode.

    "This idea is not far-fetched at all," says Malak Kotb of the University of Tennessee in Memphis. "In fact, it's a very scary thought."

    Kotb studies Streptococcus pyogenes, a bacterium that can cause sore throat in some people, but fatal toxic shock and flesh-eating disease in others. Kotb has found that a person's genetic make-up, in particular a group of genes known as the HLA genes, can either predispose or protect a person from the devastating effects of S. pyogenes.

    "Host genes play a major role in determining susceptibility to infections," says Kotb. "This makes it possible to modify certain pathogens to be infectious to specific people."

    Other genomic-based plots stretch the imagination to its limits. In episode 14, "Double Agent," Sloane exploits a technique dubbed "Project Helix," described as a "breakthrough in next- generation molecular gene therapy."

    The CIA learns that Sloane has discovered a technique to alter a person's genetic code to reshape their physical attributes. Bad guys could be made to look like anyone else. In effect, a person's physical double could be created in the body of someone else. Thankfully, Project Helix won't work on just anyone.

    "It only works on people of a certain genetic disposition, and the recipient must be induced into a comatose state for several days while their cells regenerate," explained CIA agent Jack Bristow, Sydney's TV dad, himself a double agent, during a recent episode.

    Unfortunately, Sydney's roommate, Francie had just that predisposition. She was recently murdered and replaced with her double, who now spies on Sydney and reports back to Sloane.

    Stay tuned to see Sydney Bristow try to hunt down Sloane as he ventures into the world of genomics. You never know what he'll dream up next.

    "Alias" airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC.
  2. SydB_JenG

    SydB_JenG Rocket Ranger

    Mar 1, 2003
    USA, Virginia/Utah
    Wow! I had no idea some of this stuff was possible!! That is such a scary thought!
  3. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    Well, I'd give it a yes-and-no. There's more to phenome (the physique/looks) of an organism than it's genetic makeup alone. There's also what's in the cytoplasm (which is not entirely determined by the nuclear DNA), there might be affects from the mitochondrial DNA, and there are miriad environmental factors that have to be accounted for or somehow duplicated. And if the DNA-typing only goes so deep, how far does it go? It might be difficult indeed to exactly duplicate healed fractures, heart arrythmias, epileptic conditions, and other conditions, many or most of which are environmental in origin. Think about it. You'd think a lot of field agents would have healed fractures or scarring from one source or another. And even without that, cloned cats with exactly the same DNA signature can look entirely different because of their markings--slight differences in temperature and other factors in the womb can make huge differences in what a cat looks like. And while I don't know what equivalents there might be in human development, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some--in fact, I'd probably be more surprised if there weren't any. And that's once you can infuse the DNA into the double to begin with! So this might be possible, but I'd say it's a whole lot easier said than done.
  4. IrinaDerevko

    IrinaDerevko Rocket Ranger

    Mar 23, 2003
    That's scary! It's easier said than done, you're right about that. But still...
  5. GO Syd

    GO Syd Rocket Ranger

    Dec 13, 2002
    more reasons for every1 in the battle for allalias, and OTTDOA thread to fear sloane
  6. Alias Elle

    Alias Elle Rocket Ranger

    Dec 1, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    Ye gads, I didn't think this stuff was possible!

    ~Me :angel2:
  7. crazy spinster

    crazy spinster Rocket Ranger

    Dec 9, 2002
    california. bay area or socal, depending.
    it'd be interesting to find out if any of marshall's gadgets were technologically possible. ;)
  8. Milo47

    Milo47 Rocket Ranger

    Apr 3, 2003
    I think that Alias is somewhat realistic, with the missions and everything but only the REAL CIA know that for certain....and yes marshall's gadgets are totally the bizzzzomb and i'm also wondering if it's even remotely possible YET
  9. Flames24

    Flames24 Rocket Ranger

    Dec 2, 2002
    [N]orth [C]arolina aka NASCAR Country
    That article is really, really interesting.
  10. twinzz2003

    twinzz2003 Rocket Ranger

    Dec 13, 2002
    That is really interesting!
  11. FrEeLaNcEr03

    FrEeLaNcEr03 Rocket Ranger

    Mar 29, 2003
    lol. I know. It is kinda scary and confusing!! :blink: :unsure: :wacky: :eekhair: :eek: :jawdrop:
  12. nancee

    nancee Rocket Ranger

    Feb 26, 2003
    from da hood
    haha! thats funny to me

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