Bishara’s Syndrome

Described in Alien The Cold Forge as a rare genetic disease, characterised by a series of epigenetic disorders that come from colonising.

Its origin has been traced back to the first generation of space colonists, believed to be brought on by extended radiation exposure and the toxic environment of space living.

Making it very hard to cure.

 

In Alien: The Cold Forge, Dr Blue Marsalis is one of twelve people in the world who has been diagnosed Bishara’s Syndrome. In desperation in looking for a cure she secretly uses company assets to carry out her own experiments. In the secret weapons research program conducted by Weyland Yutani on The Cold Forge, Blue attempts to isolate the Plagiarus praepotens, which she believes could cure her because of its ability to rearrange the DNA of its host. Much like CRISPR.


What is CRISPR?

CRISPR is a family of DNA sequences in bacteria and archaea.

“CRISPR” (/ˈkrɪspər/ pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, the hallmark of a bacterial defence system which forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. These sequences contain parts of the DNA from viruses that have attacked the prokaryote, by using these parts they can detect and destroy DNA from similar viruses during subsequent attacks.

What does it do?

The Cas9 follows the guide RNA to the identical location in the DNA sequence, making a cut across both strands of the DNA. Scientists can also use the DNA  repair mechanism to introduce one or more changes to the genes in the genome of a cell.

The author believes that in the future of the Alien Universe ALS will have a cure, so Bishara’s Syndrome was something made up that would be incurable because of environmental factors and lifestyle choices.

Originally Bishara’s Syndrome was described as having similarities with ALS, short for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

ALS is an umbrella term for the following subtypes of motor neurone disease:

– Progressive Muscular Atrophy
– Progressive Bulbar Palsy
– Primary Lateral Sclerosis

Its name comes from the group of diseases in which the motor neurones undergo degeneration and die, in the US it is also known as Lou Gehrig Disease, named after the famous baseball player who had died from it.

Spoilers beyond this point…

 


What is MND?

The nerve cells that are called neurones, enable us to move. Things like speaking, breathing and swallowing. When the neurones fail to work normally, the muscles can eventually degenerate and die.

Motor function

The upper motor neurones in the brain are in charge of motor functions, they descend from the brain into the spinal cord. These neurones in charge of the lower motor functions flow through the spinal cord, exiting the spinal chord and directly activating the muscles.

When the nerves have received too much damage and it fails to activate them, it speeds up the process of muscle degradation, affecting the person’s ability to move.

Because of the decay Blue’s body was under she needed a G-Tube inserted into her stomach to receive nutrients, as well as a colostomy bag to handle her waste.

G-Tube

A gastrostomy tube (also known as a G-tube) is inserted through the abdomen and delivers food directly to the stomach. It is done so that doctors can monitor their patients who have difficulty eating normally and they ensure they get the required fluid and calories in order to survive.

Colostomy Bag

The medical definition of a container kept constantly in position to receive faeces discharged through the opening created by the colostomy.

*Special thanks to Dr Laura Carija for providing information for this entry.

Information on Bishara’s Syndrome explained in AVP Galaxy’s podcast interview with Alex White

 

 

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