Nanomedical Systems (Nanosystems)

Image from Bernd Helfert

Artificial Nanomedical systems within the body of a Biont

In the majority of Inner Sphere and some middle region societies it is common for citizens to have a plethora of nanotechnological devices integrated within eir body to maintain the body at optimum health, fight disease, provide rapid healing and ensure biological immortality. Colloquially these technologies are often known as 'Artificial Immune Systems' (a name inherited from the original, limited systems that provided only this) but this is a misnomer. The correct term is 'nanomedical systems' or 'nanosystems' for short and these systems are capable of far more than simple immunity. Nanomedical systems are distinct from nanomedicines; whilst nanomedical systems contain and utilise nanomedicines the defining difference is the presence of an ecology of medibots governed by an artificial intelligence.

Nanosystems are managed by an expert AI that must be installed along with comprehensive medical libraries into the users DNI. Modern nanomedical systems are capable of identifying and integrating with most DNIs however if the host is not equipped with one the nanomedical system will install a limited DNI capable of reporting on and taking commands concerning the host's body only.

The diversity of nanomedical systems is only limited by the diversity of life in the Terragen sphere. Broadly any nanomedical system will fall between the two extreme approaches of "complementary" and "synergistic" systems.

Complementary Nanosystems Approach

The key principle behind the complementary approach is that the nanosystems maintain perfect health without altering the hostís existing biology. The nanosystems work to supplement the hostís health by fixing damage only, rather than enacting prophylactic techniques by modifying vulnerable tissues. The majority of components are drytech with biotech components for interface/interaction with hostís biology; syntech is rare but increasingly is seeing adoption in the Inner sphere. Complementary nanosystems do not have to integrate with the host and are often used for one time treatments (see: N-FAK, Omnimed); however for integration nanomarrow nodules must be grown.

Synergistic nanosystems approach

In contrast to complementary nanosystems the synergistic approach is to alter both the host and the nanosystem to create a system far greater than the sum of its parts, in effect without expert knowledge it is impossible to tell where the body ends and the nanosystem begins. For this reason synergistic nanosystems always integrate into the host.

The majority of components are biotech however more advanced syntech systems are common. Most medibots are nanocyborg cells created by fusing nanosomes with the hostís existing cells. The replication (and survival) of many synergistic components is dependent on both the hosts biology and the modified tissue/organs that combination of host and nanosystem will create. Nanomarrow is far more diverse and sophisticated with multiple synergistic tissue types capable of giving rise to different species of medibots.
The DNI required (and if absent set up) by synergistic nanosystems is much more invasive than that of complementary. Additional sensory perception regions are established in the brain which allow the user to perceive any part of eir body (thanks to the nanosystems total imaging coverage) and direct eir nanosystem to act in any way desired, rather than simply hearing reports from and giving orders to an AI.

A dedicated expert system in the infusion control unit oversees the installation of omniuploads through the DNI to grant the host comprehensive and instinctive understanding over eir biology and the related sciences that synergistic nanosystems rely on. Whilst impressive such systems do not affect the hostís realization number as eir enhanced perception focuses only on eir physical form, not eir consciousness.

Nanomedical System Integration

The process by which a nanomedical system integrates into the host organism. This process involves adopting the appropriate organic markers and behaviour protocols to avoid host immune response/rejection and establishing nanomarrow nodules within the hostís body. This process can take a few days as the initial medibots examine the hostís body and breed a customised ecology of specialised medibots. During this time the system offers limited (but improving) health protection.

Administering a nanosystem usually comes in the form of an infusion. A standard infusion kit comes with two principle components; a 1000cc IV infusion and a control unit containing a dedicated AI to oversee the integration. If the user has a sufficiently sophisticated DNI the AI can transfer to that along with a library containing medical science refined over ten thousand years of biomedical research. If the userís DNI is insufficient (or absent) the control unit can be removed from the kit and act as a wearable computer until a limited DNI is synthesised by the nanosystem.

Amongst the first thing a nanomedical system will do is a genome/proteome Ątune upí (after emergency repair if needed). The nanosystem will map all aspects of the hostís biology (genome/proteome/transcriptome etc.) and either modify itself to account for these errors (complementary) or alter the host to fix the issue (synergistic). Can be reparative (bringing the host up to merely athletic health) or augmentative (enhancing the capability of the host e.g. implanting nutritional vitamin synthesis genes).

Nanosystems can be grown up from lower volumes but a 1000cc infusion is faster and more generally used. This contains roughly 10 billion medibots (average size = 20m spheres) along with a cocktail of nanomedicines to facilitate quick imaging, biochemical analysis and diagnosis of the host.
The initial medibots are by species; 99% totipotent medibots capable of assembling all the different medibot species needed. The remaining 1% is made up of a variety of intelligence gatherers that will rapidly collate information about the host to allow the system to adapt itself to avoid immunogenicity issues. The totipotent medibots perform little repair themselves and instead replicate and produce ecologies of more specialised medibots.

Standard infusion kits can cope with most common clades however due to the extensive biodiversity found in the Terragen sphere individuals wishing to have nanomedical system integrated should have a full biophysical profile constructed by medical expert systems so as to adapt the nanosystem for the individual (this may require specialised assembler intervention). If the integrating systems discover the hostís biology is too different for it to safely integrate with it will safely disassemble although rumours of horrific mutations are widespread.

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Text by Ryan B

Initially published on 16 October 2011.