Neural Boosters

Committee on Transgressions on Illegal Substances vis-à-vis the Space Industry Department of Behavioral Studies, University of Caille On Behalf of the Gallente Federation Senate Report A-4-1 (Revision Update #2)

For the last few years there has been a marked increase in demand for Cerebral Cognitive Inducing Neural Booster (commonly called boosters) in the space industry, notably amongst space pilots. These boosters have been for number of years banned by all governments on grounds of health hazards. But the unique situation of the space pilots puts them at reduced risk and many are seemingly willing to take their chance of health failure to enhance their abilities, even momentarily. In the last few years new boosters have become available on the black market and the demand increases by the day. Underground laboratories are being set up in the outer regions, often heavily guarded or highly secret.

Through increased surveillance by DED and other law enforcement agencies more than two dozen laboratories have been closed down in the last 12 months alone. Most of them were operating in small space stations far from the main travel routes. But a recent investigation conducted by DED shows that as many as 50 laboratories are still in operation, with at least 2 new being set up every month. With the increased profits booster manufacturers are getting, new laboratories are not only getting bigger and better equipped, they’re also being constructed further and further away from empire space, and hence from empire jurisdiction. Furthermore, with the increased secrecy surrounding new laboratories their defenses are stronger now than ever, requiring stronger measures on our part to take them out.

Viruses in microscope
Genetically altered viruses ar injected into the brain to induce neural activity.

The first boosters appeared a century ago, the product of advancements in recombinant DNA technology, where bacteria are infected with virus to induce protein production in the bacteria. The basic method has been known for centuries and used for instance in the treatment of diabetes. In a Gallentean funded research project headed by Dr. Hollows and Dr. Tancréz the next step in the evolution of this method was taken, when this same procedure was used to directly infect cells within a human body with gene-altered viruses. The cells affected are nerve cells in the brain, where the viral vectors are used to induce production of membranous proteins at synapses, aiding the structural changes of the synapse necessary for formation of memories. In a breakthrough experiment, this procedure was shown to vastly reduce the maze-learning times of laboratory animals, with minimal adverse effects.

After further animal experiments, the first human trials were performed on one of Dr. Tancréz students, who volunteered to participate for the advancement of science. Dr. Tancréz’ student showed remarkable learning capabilities for a period of time after the experiment. The skills he acquired during this period were retained until his untimely death from an unrelated infection two years later. The Federation permitted further human studies a few months later during the Waschi Uprising, when the Caldari and the Gallente were at the brink of war for some time. The Federation foresaw a huge need for space pilots in case of war, so they authorized the tests in the hope that the boosters would hugely speed up the training time for new pilots. Being able to test and develop boosters on human subjects made it possible for the research team to take the final steps in completing the gene therapy and the first marketable boosters were born.

Boosters quickly became very popular, especially among the social elite, which could easily afford the high costs involved. The pioneers of the booster industry became household names, with none more famous than A.R. Louria, the founder of Booster-Tech Inc., the largest of the booster producing companies. The benefits of the boosters were marked, even at this early stage in their development when they were not nearly as potent as those available today. In few years time boosters had become the norm for a lot of people. The booster producing companies steadily improved their manufacturing techniques, resulting in cheaper and more powerful boosters, as well as more convenient injection techniques. Instead of cumbersome and often painful shots, techniques for introducing the virus through the neural link have been developed, making the boosters all the more attractive to space pilots.

All the major booster companies made extensive tests on boosters before making them available to the general public. These tests did not reveal any serious side effects, even for regular consumers. These results were confirmed in tests conducted by independent research firms and governmental institutes. But as with most things that seem too good to be true, they turn out to be, in practice, too good to be true. Unfortunately, the side effects of boosters did not materialize until decades after they first appeared.

The most serious side-effect of boosters known from the outset was epilepsy. It was discovered that certain genetic elements made some individuals more prone to this side effect than others. Once the genetic cause had been identified it became possible to determine the risk beforehand and thus limit the damage from this side effect. But about four decades after the first boosters arrived another, much more serious, side effect was discovered. It was established that a deadly brain disease caused by prions was directly related to the usage of boosters. It seemed that the boosters caused a somatic mutation in the cells affected, greatly increasing the possibility of incorrect protein formation and consequent deposition of protein plaques in nerve cells. This caused gradual nerve damage and loss of function of brain tissues. The incurable disease slowly eroded the brain, causing the person to lose memory, motor skills, sanity and ending with functional failure of the vital organs

At first people ignored these events and treated them as singular incidents, but as the cases increased day by day it became clear that an epidemic of sort had started. Even if only 1 in 10 was affected this was a great number of people because of the popularity of boosters. Furthermore, as the disease was fatal in over 90% cases, the mass hysteria threatened to escalate into social upheaval unless the governments responded swiftly. This they did by putting a temporary ban on the usage of boosters. Still, this didn’t prevent millions of people dying a horrible death.

It didn’t take long for the booster companies to go under one by one, being bled dry by massive lawsuits. The Gallente Federation initiated further studies into boosters, the results clearly showed without any reasonable doubt that the boosters were at fault, prompting all the governments to put a permanent ban on the manufacturing, distribution and ownership of boosters.

The ban held true for a few decades, with none or next to none boosters to be found anywhere. A Senate committee formed after the booster catastrophe to investigate the matter and evaluate the future of boosters had this to say in their final report:

“It is the uniform belief of this committee that society has learned its lesson regarding boosters and that we will never again have to deal with the threat of its kind. Striving for improvement is one thing, but injecting poison into your body is hazardous at best, lethal at worst, and common sense dictates that boosters are now a thing of the past.”

It can now be safely said that these optimistic predictions made half a century ago have turned out be false. It is true that for a number years there never was any mass-scale distribution of boosters, the only incidents were limited production of old booster recipes that could easily be contained. But the lure of the boosters has tempted people into reckless behavior in the past and despite the all too well-known dangers of boosters it can now be asserted that boosters are back, and back for good unless some drastic measures are taken.

MRI scan
A MRI-scan clearly shows how several zones in the brain are altered when the person is boosted.

The new boosters, the one that are currently available on the black market, are in many ways revolutionary. Even if their effects are the same they’ve been developed considerably. The latest procedures have aimed to minimize the risk of the old side effects. The methods involve performing multiple smaller scale procedures, while suppressing the immune system. With earlier methods there was no option of repeat procedures, as the only virus design available was quickly targeted by the immune system and destroyed. The most obvious advantage of the newer methods is a reduced incidence of encephalitis, but there also seems to be less risk of epilepsy. This can most likely be attributed to the neural riggers all space pilots have, which can be used to suppress or stem epileptic seizures. By suppressing the immune system during the operation for a period of time after each injection, the effects last longer and the therapy is more effective. This also increases the success rate of subsequent therapies, as the viral vectors are not attacked by the immune system as soon as they are introduced.

But the obvious downside to suppressing the immune system is that the body becomes vulnerable to diseases. However, space pilots spend most of their time locked up in their capsule, a completely sterile environment. It makes it more difficult for them to leave their capsule (although not impossible), but on the whole suppressing the immune system is a non-issue for space pilots. But it must be stressed that even if these boosters are relatively harmless for space pilots because of their sterile capsules and neural riggings boosters are still very dangerous to the common people and must at all costs be kept out of the hands of the unwary or we may have an even greater catastrophe on our hands than before. This fact makes it all the more important to apprehend those responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of the new boosters.

One persistent problem with the earlier methods was that genetic variation between different individuals seemed to have a relatively large effect on the outcome of the boosters. Some individuals were more prone to side effects, while some didn’t benefit at all from the procedures. Later, genetic variations between bloodlines was proven to account for most of these differences. Some boosters were of course more universal than others, but recently custom boosters have been designed specifically to take advantage of the genetic make up of various bloodlines, resulting in race-specific boosters.

The kind of R&D needed for these new boosters could only have been undertaken and funded by a wealthy group with access to all the newest theories and technologies. The only independent group with the means and the motives for this would be the Angel Cartel, but DED has found nothing linking the development of the advanced boosters with them. But the fact the Cartel became heavily involved in distribution of the new boosters right from the start suggests, in the words of Col. Jeanrick Cavalery “that either the Cartel is very close to the booster manufacturers or they themselves are the manufacturers.” However, we cannot rule out the possibility that those responsible for the R&D and perhaps the manufacturing of these advanced boosters are in the employment of one of the other empires.

In conclusion we recommend that further measures to be taken to stem the increasing tide of illegal boosters. Granted, there is considerable demand for this among a large group of otherwise lawful space pilots, but boosters are not a requirement to make a good pilot. Thus the marginal benefits pilots gain from boosters should not outweigh the great risk of using them.

As the majority of boosters originate outside empire space we recommend increased border surveillance, as well as heavier punishment for those caught smuggling or selling boosters. Furthermore, that an investigation should be launched to determine who is developing these boosters.

Lastly, our own research teams should start analyzing the new boosters with the intent of understanding them fully in case we need them at a later date when war threatens. Naturally, this will have to be done in the strictest secrecy. Intelligence sources indicate that similar steps are being taken by the other empires and we can’t run the risk of being left behind if and when boosters become standard items for space captains.