When we buy a medication at the supermarket we are only focused on what symptoms it could alleviate. After all, we simply want instant relief from any discomforts or ailments that we may experience. The following philosophy-inspired story focuses on the question: Is There More to Medicine Than Meets the Eye?
A few months ago, one of my friends met up with Bob who was a game developer that focused on 3D strategy games. He was interested in creating a new game for the metaverse that focused combined the elements of science and adventure. The underlying plot for his game hadn't been fully developed and he was clearly still in the process of piecing together his storyboard. However, during my friend's conversation with him, one thing caught his ear. Experiments.
I remembered one of the early typing games that I played where you could explore what would happen if you combined the DNA of one animal with the DNA of another animal. For example, you combined a whale with a zebra, you would get a creature with the head the body of a zebra with a tail of a whale. After I had told this memory to my friend, he said that it would a perfect concept to share with Bob.
Later that day, my friend and I retreated to the patio of his house to have some delicious barbeque-flavored sausages. After going through a few links, my friend said, "you know, I found the perfect storyline and background plot for Bob's new metaverse idea".
"Really? What would that be?", I asked casually. Given that my friend was in the pharmaceutical industry, I could almost guess what his idea was going to be.
After a brief pause, he said, "The theme of the game would be centered around the development of new medications. However, simply creating new medicines from old ones is boring. In this game, you will go through the entire empirical process of discovering a cure - just like they did in the 1600s. You would also take on a special role in the game."
"Ok, I'm following you.", I said.
My friend continued to say that, in the beginning, a certain country would develop an antibiotic-based medication as a partially effective and temporary cure for a deadly plague that was impacting multiple cities around the world. Scientists around the world would have to spend about two years trying to find a more permanent and easily replicable medication to cure the disease. During those two years of uncertainty, one country had actually found a safe and feasible cure which they only applied to their citizens.
As the lead pharmaceutical researcher of a powerful country, it would be the job of a science detective (your role) to uncover what really went on behind that cure. If you play the game the "right way" you would find that after searching through the files and archives of scientists during the past century, you make a startling discovery. The country that found a cure to the disease was also the very country that invented it. We'll call this country XEENA.
A series of files will eventually reveal that multiple non-ethical animal eradication tests were done on an invasive and non-native animal species that used to roam the land of XEENA. During these tests, scientists would inject a deadly virus of a specific concentration to certain animals that could reproduce. The results of the experiments were never disclosed to the public as they often resulted in animal mutilations, birth defects, or an extended period of suffering before death. As with any ecological system, the 'test' species of animals eventually adapted to defend against the virus within one or two years.
The scientists would continue their experiments until they were certain that they could control the severity, duration, and adaption time of the virus they were developing. Their ultimate goal was to eradicate all "pests" from the country. But the detective work doesn't stop there. If you play the game "right", you will find that there is another avenue of analysis.
You could also ask the question: Why Wasn't the Cure Shared with the World Earlier? After digging through public council records and interrogating the leaders of several pharmaceutical producers, you will find that there was another secret goal behind the "pest control" scheme of XEENA. Hidden deep within the scientific records of the country's biology information institute, you find a box of declassified papers that document specific types of biological pest control bacterias and their concentrations that could affect human health in varying degrees.
You also find a document that shows that these "pest control bacterias" have the capability to eliminate certain parts of the human population as part of a future depopulation scheme. Upon finding this information, your research takes a brief detour and you look more into the reasons why a nation would engage in depopulation. As you gather more data on depopulation statistics, you make yet another startling discovery.
The scientific detective company you work for provides part of your findings to a foreign company located in the country of OPREX, the harshest and most oppressive capitalistic country on the planet. OPREX recently was attempting to find ways to reduce its expenses in order to recover its economy. You find that the country recently had a nationwide preventative care program where everyone had to take a "preventative cure" tablet. Shortly afterward, a large population of individuals over 65 years old, who were mostly retirees receiving OPREX pensions, had caught a mysterious illness and passed away. The media attributed it to a variety of factors such as plague-related symptoms, pneumonia, or a hereditary medical issue.
Upon inspecting the toxicology reports for a specific sample of these individuals, you find that their immune systems were not strong enough to handle a particular type of bio-chemical. As it turns out, it is the same family of bacteria-based chemicals used in the "pest control" scheme of XEENA. Later, you also find that it had been used as a bio-weapon against foreign countries that did not follow the political and trade-related demands of OPREX. The effects of this bio-weapon were always put under the guise of a "lab-leak".
After a while of silence, I said, "Wow, that sounds like a solid storyline for a metaverse game. Where did you come up with all this?"
"My brain", my friend replied.