1. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Implications of having no immune system.

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Anonym, Nov 30, 2011.

    Besides the obvious: rampant infection.

    No, I'm toying with a version of the good ol' super-soldier trope. Specifically, obliterating the immune system and rejection response so as to allow for extensive and invasive augmentations, which would obviously require living in an environmentally sealed suit to protect from pathogens.
    So, I'm wondering more about internal implications of having no immune system. I've read that it helps preclude and control the growth of tumors, that kinda thing - health complications not from infection by an external agent, but from the absence of the functions the immune system serves internally. I'm working on researching this myself, but wouldn't mind input from someone who might know more about this than I do. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Cancer.
     
  3. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Okay. That's a start, being part of what I was getting at with the tumor reference. These "soldiers" are genetically modified to grow to maturity and spiral into premature senescence very quickly, which is to say they're purposely designed not to live all that long. Which is to say that chronic diseases that might take a while to manifest and progress to the point of impeding battle efficiency aren't of particular import in this setting. Good thinking though. Again, biology's not exactly my specialty. I appreciate it.
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    More likely HIV, actually. And probably a good dose of rabies, too.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    No. He asked for effects that were not due to an external agent. HIV and rabies are both due to external agents. Cancer, on the other hand, is not necessarily due to one and can be the effect of an absent immune system because your body has immune cells that patrol the body looking for and bringing about the destruction of abnormal cells like cancer cells. Without the immune system, the body's natural defenses against cancer are gone.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If they are not going to be around long enough, it may not matter. The body can develop cancers as a result of mutations during normal cell division. The right mutation in a gene involved in regulation of cell division, for example. The immune system, in part, finds these cells and destroys them. If these soldiers are not going to live that long, then it may not matter. That said, consider this: if their body is designed to grow to maturity and beyond rapidly, then any cancers that occur as a result of the body's own mutations might also develop extremely rapidly, following the rapid growth pattern of the modified soldier. It isn't a necessary consequence, but if you wanted to you could introduce some new kind of cancer that develops very swiftly as a consequence of the lack of an immune system in these altered soldiers.
     
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  7. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Well put, kudos. You pretty much pegged the missing puzzle piece in my conundrum. Well, one of em. At least, insofar as tumorous growths and whatnot.

    Yeah, rapid growth/cell division = increased incidences of mutations not otherwise mitigated by a healthy immune system = more likely, earlier and potentially more virulent onset of cancer. All factors being relative to each other, of course. Makes sense.

    If I finessed the concept a bit, the looming probability of terminal cancer would only be a more effective story device, especially within the recurrent theme and context of imminent and inescapable death, being doomed, etc. Thank you for your input, and Crucifiction's too.

    Mainly, I'm just trying to avoid an Achilles's heel that would shatter the suspension of disbelief of someone knowledgeable enough about biology, etc., assuming I abide by the (arguably) somewhat expository narrative of hard sci-fi.

    Any and all further ideas and considerations are welcome.
     
  8. SeverinR
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    One internal agent to contend with, the stomach and intestines are full of helpful organisms that the body keeps in check,
    without it being controlled they will grow out of control and can kill a person. The symptoms would be the same as any stomach ailment.(nasty)
    Cancer is good too.
     
  9. MVP
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    This is boy in the bubble syndrome, aka, SCID.
    You should also google Graft vs Host disease, as tissue rejections go both ways. The patient's body can reject a tissue. However the tissue can also reject the patient's body. Or you can just ignore the whole immune system thing and pump them full of immuno-suppressants.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You can really go a couple of different directions with it. It may be that you have some kind of accelerated cancer or other internal effect on the body. Or, if you don't want to go down that road, you could simply establish that medical technology is quite advanced (which it would have to be to achieve what you are proposing) and all of the potential effects of not having an immune system are addressed via drugs, augmentations, or genetic modifications, or any combination of these. In other words, you don't have to make it so that there are any ill effects at all. As long as you address the possibility, even if just to very briefly explain why the soldiers do not suffer them, I think you are fine and there is little room for someone with a science background to complain. If you like the idea of a detrimental effect such as a disease state, then it gives you some interesting areas to play around in.
     
  11. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    if a round peirces their armor and enters their flesh they are finished.
     
  12. LaurenM
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    I would like to chip in. :) My brother has Common Variable Immunodefecieny (he's missing the majority of his immune system/The boy-in-the-bubble syndrome). Before he was diagnosed, he was constantly sick, and had a lot of upper respiratory problems. He even got lesions on his lungs. So it's not like he got cancer or anything from it-it just means that he doesn't have antibodies to build up against illnesses. (Thus it renders vaccines useless on him.) With regular doses of gamma globulin intravenously he's just like a normal person, though. In fact he gets sick less often with the medicine than a normal person.
     
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