Medicine

 
 

Anatomy is destiny - but anatomy is malleable.

I plan to live forever, of course, but barring that I'd settle for a thousand years. Even five hundred would be pretty nice.
-
CEO Nwabudike Morgan (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri)

Medicine has advanced on most planets, enabling new treatments and the extension of human life. The exceptions are (as expected) Negsoa and Gaia, and to some extent Mary. The most advanced planets in this respect are Atlantis, Arcadia and Ridgewell, which all have achieved indefinite life extension: given the right gene therapy treatments and metabolic adjustments ageing can be halted. Rejuvenation is still not feasible, although a good imitation can be achieved using plastic surgery and further therapy (children born on Arcadia can be modified to have built-in life extension, making it possible to freeze ageing at some point). On the other planets human lifespans reach the biological maximum of 120 years (people remain healthy up to an advanced age, and then fairly quickly sicken and die), and on Nova this can be extended a few decades further by bionic support systems.

Most diseases can be treated fairly well; Alzheimerís disease, cancer and cardiovascular diseases are not much to worry over. The main problem usually lies in detecting dangers before they become significant. Instead of transplants cloned organs are commonly used (it takes around a month to grow a cloned organ at a good hospital). Local diseases (such as the salt breath of New America or 45-point syndrome of Penglai) can cause problems for outsiders, but usually effective treatments have developed locally. Often they can be treated by using chemicals that are poisonous to local life but not terrestrial life. Still, there is some worry about interstellar spread of contamination.

Radiation damage can be treated or prevented to some extent, but intense doses are still deadly. Trauma is another big killer - even with modern medicine it is not possible to help somebody who has been shredded or had his brain damaged seriously. Medicine still cannot handle destruction of brain tissue; while cultured neurons can replace damaged parts, the results are usually a profound amnesia, changes in personality and behavior - the patient becomes a new person.

Bionics is in widespread use on Nova and Atlantis. Originally developed for prosthesises in the 1990ís and 2010ís, they have become used for interfacing with technology and extending human capacity. The most common types are neurointerfaces and neurocomputers. Various brain implants exist enabling control over mood, motivational state, memory and the autonomous nervous system. Another popular application is releasing drugs or hormones into the bloodstream. Some of the Nova prototypes (mainly developed by Unity and allied groups) place the human brain in highly unusual states, this was the basis of the human-Quai interface developed shortly after the first FTL contact.

Drugs have developed far on Atlantis and especially Dionysos. They can target very specific parts of the brain and body, causing well-defined and safe effects. The legality of non-medical drugs varies from planet to planet; on Atlantis and Dionysos anything goes, on Mary certain drugs are legal (the ones sold by BM), Nova and Arcadia have fairly liberal drug policies, while the rest are restrictive. Needless to say, this causes some problems when Atlanteans try to sell their recreational pharmaceuticals or indulge in their own lifestyles off-planet.

Genetic modifications of humans are common on Arcadia (where they have been nearly perfected) and Atlantis. On Nova, Penglai and New America, founded still under the influence of the bio-conservative 2030ís, they are illegal outside some medical applications. Mary employs only some standard modifications, removing certain bad genes. Victoria has a formally liberal policy, but the area has not been developed far, partially due to Trahan influence: the Trahans dislike the idea of modifying oneís heritage artificially (even if there is some evidence genetic techniques were used during the 50-54th dynasties). On Ridgewell one family dogma is keeping the clones "pure" by not modifying the genes except for in vitro antiaging gene therapy. Dionysos lost the medical knowledge, but is now embracing Arcadian and Atlantean techniques with few inhibitions.