MX-403 (Roleplay Article)
By now, our regular viewers and readers have likely heard of the tragic incident that nearly befell one of Chandeille's most promising stars, Anys Thes'Realin, and the infection that nearly killed her three months ago. Although many details of the accident are still confidential due to the ongoing investigation, there is one frequent question that we can answer: "What exactly infected Anys and nearly killed her?”
Lirsautton II is well-known amongst the Jin-Mei as teeming with countless dangerous microbes, with very limited export and study performed due to their exceptional resilience to various decontamination procedures. In the accident that occurred, she was exposed to a particularly nasty bacteriophage nicknamed, “The Burning Death” by the Jin-Mei researcher that first cataloged it ten years ago.
The official designation of this infection is MX-403. It is one of the more unusual bacteriophages to come from to come from Lirsautton II. Bacteriophages are bacteria that have been infected by a virus that is only able to infect bacteria. This virus is classified as MV-403, and on its own it can infect a wide variety of bacteria, but only bacteria. What makes MV-403 so unusual is that, once it does infect a bacterium, it alters the bacterium to start producing a mutated version of the MV-403 that can then infect higher complexity organisms, including humans. It is unknown yet if the type of bacterium determines how the mutation takes place – so far nearly a hundred different bacteria have been cataloged as being infected by MX-403.
MV-403 requires solid or liquid water to survive, in which it exists in a dormant state. In this state, the virus is resilient, but can be killed – several forms of hard radiation appear to be the most effective way of killing it. Some studies on a possible retrovirus to combat it have been performed, but since it appears this form of the virus doesn’t appear to cause harm or infection in higher life forms, the focus is on the its mutated children.
Unfortunately the MX-403 bacteriophage is far more harmful and resilient, and can exist in a wide range of environments, depending on the exact bacterium infected by MV-403. Some specimens can exist in the depths of space, whereas others can exist in even volcanic environments. It is this bacteriophage that is deadly, and extremely hard to eliminate since numerous different strains of infected bacteria are likely to exist in a single sample, each with their own resiliency.
When a victim is infected by MX-403 (usually via consumption of contaminated water), the bacterium almost immediately begins to mass-produce and deploy a modified MV-403 virus (classified as MVx-403). This virus then starts attacking and interfering with the host’s metabolic process. This causes the host’s digestive and metabolic processes to accelerate, flooding the body with extra processed nutrients and energy. Unfortunately the bacteriophage creates certain enzymes that prevent the host’s body from properly utilizing its own energy. The bacteriophage instead absorbs some of this energy for its own use to grow and multiply, and then sends the remaining energy back into the hosts own metabolic processes to further increase the process. This essentially creates a chain reaction that causes the host’s metabolism to run faster and faster. Eventually, this will either cause the host’s body to bake itself to death (despite the name, “Burning Death”, the body doesn’t literally combust), or to begin cannibalizing itself to feed the run-away metabolic process.
Once a host has been infected it has, until now been impossible to treat it, since the precious few means of killing the bacterium and the virus would also be extremely lethal to the host as well. The only practical treatment is to immediately increase the host’s caloric and nutritional intake. This helps keep the host’s body from running out of energy too quickly, but this alone only delays death to a few days instead of a few hours. Fortunately, last year a Gallente scientist wrote a theoretical paper about treating the disease with a bioengineered compound normally used to help fatten-up livestock.
These compounds (usually referred to as simply fatteners or fat-inducers), are designed to hyper-stimulate a body’s lipogenesis and triglyceride systems. Exceptionally potent, they are used almost exclusively for the rapid fattening of livestock, with very limited uses for human consumption. In this situation, her hypothesis was that augmenting the body’s own fat-generating processes might help divert least some of the excess energy from the overactive metabolism and absorb it as harmless fat cells. The hope was the body would absorb enough of the excess energy and starve the bacteriophage of the necessary energy to continue producing its viral payload and burn itself out. After which, the host would be free of the infection with only extra the body mass, and would be able to remove the extra adipost weight with whatever dietary or cosmetic procedure he or she desired.
Anys was the first person treated in this manner, and fortunately for her the hypothesis was sound. It did save her life, but by the time they were able to attempt the treatment, the infection in Anys’s body was far too advanced for it to be completely effective, and left her with a new problem. The treatment greatly hindered the MX-403 bacteriophage inside of Anys, but the infection was too advanced halt it entirely. Her body became a battleground between her augmented lipo system and the bacteriophage, all the while she was still forced to consume massive amounts of concentrated nutritional and caloric supplements to keep her body alive. This caused her weight to rapidly increase, and by the end of the first week she had gained 15 kilograms, a nearly 25% increase to her body mass. Even worse, as the bacteriophage continued to strengthen and her body became more adept at gaining weight, the rate of her weight gain increased. It was estimated in less than three months time, she would be too obese for her circulatory system to function unassisted, assuming something in her overstressed body didn’t expire first.
However, anybody familiar with Anys story knows that she was able to beat the odds and become the first survivor of the Burning Death, in a matter of speaking. With all of the medical tests being performed on her, it was discovered that Anys was found physically and psychologically compatible with current Cloning technology. Her delicate condition considerably slowed-down the initial cloning procedure, but using Chandeille’s own Capsuleer program, they were able to complete her new body. The consciousness transfer was completed successfully, and left Anys in a new body free of the MX-403 bacteriophage, and of course all of the weight she gained (it’s reported she weighted over 230kg when the transfer was complete). While she has not only returned to the Red Carpet, she’s also turned her eyes to the stars, and has entered the ranks of the Capsuleers.
Her original body, as of last report, was donated to the Boeshane Medical institute that helped to save her life, for further study and understanding of MX-403.