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Nanomedical System - Capabilities

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Image from Steve Bowers

Components and Capabilities

Nanomarrow

By design totipotent medibots are capable of producing any medibot required (if not directly, multipotent medibots can be assembled that can produce more specialised medibots). Upon integration totipotent medibots form 1mm3 artificial tissues known as nanomarrow nodules. These nodules massively increase the nanofacture capability of the nanosystem thanks to; the close contact of medibots (allowing production line techniques for increased speed) and the higher medibot concentrations available in nanomarrow compared to the blood. On average hundreds of nanomarrow nodules are needed for full integration. These nodules can be found mostly in the circulatory and lymphatic systems however there are few tissues where nodules cannot be found.

Regenerative Scaffold

The principle mechanism by which a nanosystem will repair tissue. Damaged tissues are penetrated by tendrils formed from free floating regenerative medibots binding/bonding together to form a mycelia-like structure. Over time the scaffold will become denser absorbing damaged tissue to add to its mass. Where applicable medibots within the scaffold will take up the task of simulating the function of the damaged tissue (e.g. if liver is damaged then scaffold will reconnect blood vessels to chambers containing medibots that will filter blood).

While disassembling the damaged tissue sections of the scaffold will switch to assembly function. Acting in a similar manner to a bioforge the scaffold will assemble healthy tissue. In the process the scaffold will slowly dismantle itself, building totally regenerated tissue in its wake.

The speed of regeneration can vary depending on the wound and the nanosystem however a typical scaffold can grow and regenerate tissue at a rate of 1cm per hour. For example: tissue damaged from toxins/infections will be regenerated as a wave front of scaffold growth followed by an advancing wall of regenerated tissue. The loss of a digit/limb will be repaired by a digit/limb shaped scaffold growing from the stump. A layer of scaffold will appear to ride on a rapidly growing digit/limb as the most distal end keeps growing and more proximal parts keep assembling tissue.

If mechanical support/manipulation is needed (e.g. for broken bone) a nanomedical system can quickly assemble in vivo splints. This involves forming biopolymer tendrils throughout the surrounding tissue that can flex and contort the tissue. For example for a badly broken and protruding bone the wound will be sealed with a medibot-spun cast (rapidly synthesised by skin medibots), surrounding tissue will become very stiff, painlessly the limb/tissue will contort pulling the bones back into place. Where necessary bones may be quickly dismantled by osteoclast-medibots.

Cosmetic Alterations

Owing to the sophistication of nanomedical systems it is simply a matter of programming and intelligent oversight to allow a nanosystem to alter the host’s body cosmetically. The alterations available depend on the capability of the nanosystem but can range from minor aesthetic alterations (colouring, figure, size) to extreme tweaks.

In most places in the Sephirotic empires sophonts regularly change eir biology to match the current vogue. Many sophonts take such things quite seriously and are constantly altering eir body forms to match the style of the hour.

Contraception and Reproduction

Nanomedical systems can easily prevent pregnancy in a variety of side-effect free manners, regardless of the sex of the sophont. The majority of bionts possess common genemods that can confer biological contraception under the control of conscious thought, and due to this many nanosystems just supplement this process. Amongst sophonts lacking the appropriate genemods who live in a society where nanosystems are common such contraceptive can be quite popular.

If the individual does wish to reproduce sophisticated nanosystems can supply totipotent medibots that will integrate with and protect the developing foetus. The governing AI and medical libraries must be provided, usually from the DNI of the pregnant individual or from wearable computers (in advanced societies the angelnet can take the place of a wearable computer). If the individuals attempting to procreate possess different nanosystems they will interface to synchronise their medical capabilities however if ey possess radically different nanosystems (or biologies) obstetrician expert systems may need to be included in the act of intercourse to ensure the foetus develops healthily. This may even require transplanting the embryo to an artificial womb.

Lazarus Procedure

A radical last-resort procedure executed by a nanosystem when repair and rescue of the host are not possible, literally capable of bringing an individual back from the dead. Whilst bail-out systems are viewed as being unethical a Lazarus procedure is far tamer. In properly angelnetted societies nanosystems capable of performing Lazarus procedures are unnecessary; firstly because such trauma is unlikely to occur to an individual and secondly rescue and recovery are far more efficient. Even in some societies without angelnets most sophonts have other options such as transmitting eir mindstate to an Engenerator or memory box recovery. Because of this nanosystems capable of performing Lazarus procedures are mostly seen in less developed societies in the Middle Regions. In spite of this there are a small amount of sophonts in the Sephirotic Empires who make sure eir nanosystems have this capability; depending on whom you ask these individuals are either prepared or paranoid.

If the damage to the host is too great the resident nanosystem will perform an emergency upload of the host into a memory box. In conjunction with this specialised sacs of disassembler/assembler nanites will be released quickly building a diamondoid cocoon around the host whilst dismantling the host’s body (avoiding the central nervous system until the upload is complete). In the unlikely scenario the Lazarus procedure is invoked due to a fatal infection the disassemblers will attempt to destroy the pathogen. If this cannot be done (e.g. the host is suffering attack from sophisticated nanites) the pathogen will be encapsulated in layers of diamond and sacs containing chemicals for highly exothermic reactions. The cocoon can then eject the capsule (in a manner akin to a ballistic weapon) simultaneously breaking the sacs and heating the capsule to extremely high temperatures.

The disassemblers/assemblers will then begin to reassemble the cocoon into a new body for the host’s uploaded mind to download into. If available resources are not available from the cocoon (e.g. the host suffered decapitation and the cocoon consisted of only the mass of the head) tendril roots can be grown to harvest materials from the environment. The host can even be activated whilst uploaded to overview the construction of eir new body. If suitable materials are not available the host can even choose to have a different body assembled, one that makes the best use of the materials that are available: This has led to some unexpected consequences with some users invoking an unnecessary Lazarus procedure for the cosmetic purposes of radical body augmentation

Nanosystem Immune Response

Upon encountering a foreign agent (virus/bacteria/toxin/nanite) the components of the nanosystem will execute responses according to the severity and nature of the threat. The average nanosystem deals with infection on a regular basis but nearly all such infections are dealt with long before the host notices. Broadly these responses involve:

• Detection of the agent: this process occurs through a variety of mechanisms. Initially chemical sensors detect the presence of various soluble factors either released by the agent or created by various warning devices constantly released by nanosystems. This allows immune medibots to migrate towards an infectious agent, effectively „sniffing’ them out. For physical detection and latching immune medibots are covered with millions of fibres, the tip of each fibre is coated with a different „grip’ molecule that is designed to bind to different types of antigen (but not be able to bind to human tissue). Upon binding a fibre activates a signalling pathway inside the medibot allowing it to determine which type of grip has bound to the pathogen. The majority of fibres are then reconfigured to similar grips (though not all in case other antigens can be found) with mutation/selection of fibres rapidly evolving the best grip. All the while the bound fibres contract in an attempt to pull the agent into the medibot in a manner akin to phagocytosis (if the agent is too large multiple medibots can bind together to produce a „giant multibot’). Once inside the agent is encapsulated in a disassembly capsule where it is atomically disassembled providing a highly detailed profile that is transmitted to the rest of the nanosystem (and through the DNI to medical libraries on the Net).

• Using the profile a nanosystem can enact appropriate protocols to get rid of the foreign agent. This is a two-step processes involving the synthesis and release of targeted delivery systems (carrying antibodies, antibiotics, antivirals, antirobotics, nanophages etc) designed to make the host’s body toxic to the agent. Most immune medibots will become microvorous (leaving some to continue disassembly so as to catch different agents that may be present). Agents are phagocytosed into the medibots where they are encapsulated before being assaulted by whatever regimen best destroys them e.g. changing the temperature, pH, pressure, composition, applying electricity or even using appropriate grip fibres to tear the agent to pieces. Invariably a combination of destructive techniques is used to speed up throughput; the waste products are then converted to non-toxic particles and released in vesicles that can be picked up by medibots tasked with clean-up.

Once the infection has been dealt with a nanomedical system can upload the technique used to medical libraries on the 'net to be downloaded in updates to other sophont's nanomedical systems. This establishes a system of networked immunity in a population, where many individuals gain immunity from a disease if just one person manages to fight it off.

• To protect surrounding tissues from damage prophylactic medicines (appropriately prescribed based on the agent’s profile) are administered. If needed quarantining of diseased tissues through rapid fibrous encapsulation can occur.

• A regenerative scaffold is synthesized in damaged tissue and regenerates the tissue through absorption/regeneration (this process occurs in tandem with fighting infection). If nutrient supply is insufficient the nanosystem can cause the host to feel strong cravings for certain foods. For this purpose customised nutrient broths can be prescribed by the nanosystem’s governing AI (orders can even be sent directly from the AI to household assemblers). Occasionally the heat produced by a regenerative scaffold may result in the host becoming temporarily feverish (though the nanosystem can remove any feelings of discomfort).

IN AN EMERGENCY ONLY: quarantining affected area and sacrificing tissue to save key organs. Nanosystems can then fight infection using far more destructive "scorched-Earth" strategies (utilising corrosive chemicals, burning/electrifying infected tissue) that can greatly damage host tissue. Over time if the damage is not reversed key organs will be sacrificed in order of importance with protecting the brain remaining paramount. If this too fails most nanomedical systems are capable of emergency upload into a memory box. Some nanomedical systems are even capable of initiating bailouts or Lazarus procedures.

UNPRECEDENTED INFECTIONS: in response to foreign agents nanomedical systems compare the profile of the agent to a medical library that has limited capability to innovate a response. There is danger to innovative responses as untested medical regimens can have disastrous side effects. If the nanomedical system cannot fight the infection more sophisticated medical facilities may be required. If these facilities are not available (or against the hosts wishes) the nanomedical systems can switched to scorched-Earth strategies however these procedures involve great discomfort. Some nanomedical systems include nanobone augmentation to give huge computational power to simulate and design new regiments, if available computational resources across the Net along with dedicated hyperturings can be combined with the host’s efforts. Unfortunately due to the incredibly high number of variables in a host’s biology this technique is not full-proof but is much more successful than scorched-Earth strategies. If the battle seems lost, emergency procedures such as a mindstate upload to a memory box, mindstate transmission to an engenerator for re-bodying, the use of a bail-out device or Lazarus procedure are just some of the possible techniques different cultures have developed.

Nanosystem Trauma Response

A nanosystem trauma response is strongly determined by the nature of the trauma. Broadly these responses involve:

• Detection of the trauma through chemical, ultrasound, micromechanical detection.

• Clot response to limit damage (also activates nanosystem immune response). Even major wounds can be clotted in seconds.

• If the wound requires (e.g. if the wound is a large gash or a limb is broken) medibots located on the skin will rapidly (within minutes) spin tough protein fibres (harvested from the host) over and around the wound to form a protective cast.

• A regenerative scaffold is synthesized in damaged tissue and regenerates the tissue through absorption/regeneration. If nutrient supply is insufficient the nanosystem can cause the host to feel strong cravings for certain foods. For this purpose customised nutrient broths can be prescribed by the nanosystem’s governing AI (orders can even be sent directly from the AI to household assemblers). Occasionally the heat produced by a regenerative scaffold may result in the host becoming temporarily feverish (though the nanosystem can remove any feelings of discomfort).

• Medibots in tissue severed from the body will enact different protocols to place the tissue in nanostasis. Partial scaffolds are grown on the surfaces previously connected to the body. In this form the tissue can be placed into its original place in the body where the scaffold will bond it back in, the tissue can then be regenerated. This option is useful in situations such as the severance of a limb as the sophont can simply pick the limb back up and reattach it, saving far more energy and time than waiting for the limb to regrow.

IF TRAUMA IS SEVERE; scaffold will redirect most blood flow from the damaged tissue and, where necessary, medibots/scaffolds will replace the function of the damaged tissue (e.g. if an eye is damaged a film of photoreceptive medibots will grow across the lens and send information directly to the brain whilst a scaffold regenerates the eye).

IF TRAUMA IS VERY SEVERE: quarantining affected area and sacrificing of tissue to save key organs. Over time if the damage is not reversed key organs will be sacrificed in order of importance with protecting the brain remaining paramount. If this too fails most nanomedical systems are capable of emergency upload into a memory box. Some nanomedical systems are even capable of initiating bailouts or Lazarus procedures.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Ryan B

Initially published on 16 October 2011.

 
 
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