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I have an idea for a story in the FreeRIDErs shared story universe which involves somebody developing some kind of fatal medical condition from which he can't recover, but which leaves his central nervous system and at least some other tissue intact for sampling.

The reason for this is because of how I want some DNA to be extracted from the intact non-nervous tissue and a map of the victim's central nervous system to be made from his intact brain and spinal cord.

I assume that the latter artifact could probably be constructed today by subjecting the nervous tissue in question to CLARITY, using a microtome to cut it into slices less than a millimeter thick, scanning these slices of neural tissue into a computer using some kind of electron microscope, and then analyzing these scans. After that, I would assume that such medical data would be saved somewhere from whence it could later be recovered and processed to recover the mental state and original body of the preserved victim.

The problem is that I'm not exactly sure what kind of medical condition would preserve only the tissue necessary for such an event to take place. I was considering using an accident of some kind to make it so that something like this could happen, but the probability that one of those would save the biological material needed for my story to progress would be quite low. Maybe my main character could already be dying for some reason? I'd need some kind of heritable or contractable disease to have struck him before the beginning of the story if that were to be the case, but I don't know about any conditions that might fit the bill. Maybe some auto-immune disease or lethal non-metastatic cancer could work? Anyway, I would greatly appreciate any ideas that those of you who see this question might have.

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  • $\begingroup$ I edited the question to make is easier to read. Is it ok ? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Nov 11 '14 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yup; that's fine! $\endgroup$ – RandomDSdevel Nov 11 '14 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Does this constitute world building or a plot point? Considering the universe is already developed are we just helping write a story here? $\endgroup$ – James Nov 12 '14 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ Umm…maybe? Is that against the rules? (Darn it, I should have looked first before deciding to ask this question on this Stack Exchange!) Although I guess that the story I've asked for help on has the potential to build on what already exists in the shared setting I mentioned and develop it some more, so…maybe I've crossed the line between asking for help with story development and asking for help developing a setting or maybe I haven't? Argh! It's so unclear and ambiguous! $\endgroup$ – RandomDSdevel Nov 12 '14 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ It's definitely in the borderline for being plot rather than world - in particular since it's talking about an individual. So far there are no close votes so people seem to think you are the right side of the line but we'll see how it goes. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Nov 13 '14 at 9:31
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Motor Neuron Diseases

Have you ever heard of motor neuron diseases, or ALS / Lou-Gehrig's Disease (you know, what people were dunking themselves in ice for)? This would also make brain-scans of the deceased very viable, since it does not directly destroy the brain. If this particular case was caused by genetics, as about 5% of them are, no amount of "true" cloning would avoid it.

Cancer

Especially things like Colorectal Cancer, which can kill you, but not really destroy your brain. That being said, you must again watch out and make sure the cancer isn't caused by genetics. Cloning does not cure the problems your genes give you. Also, you must make sure the tissue you sample for DNA fragments isn't cancerous, otherwise your clone may grow up to be a tumor or inviable.

Brain Formation is Complicated

A friendly word of warning; brain formation is complicated. Simply cloning someone and advancing the clone to adulthood may not yield the "perfect" clone. This is due to how humans develop. Some things are hard-wired, and due to genetics, while other things are "learned;" that is, you can do it because your body/mind learned to do it. While sci-fi often ignores this, you can make your story more hardcore sci-fi by addressing this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Any of the diseases which you mentioned will probably work; the difficulties you mentioned are probably irrelevant in the shared setting in which I'm placing my story. It's far enough in the future that biotechnological science have developed to the point where genetic anomalies can easily be detected and corrected. It might be biologically safer and easier plot-wise to use a non-genetic disorder, though. As for concerns that the clone resulting from the process might have at least partial amnesia, that's what the brain scans are for, right? $\endgroup$ – RandomDSdevel Nov 11 '14 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @RandomDSdevel It's not just that, but things like muscle memory, balance, or even trained skills. (And other things like inexperienced autoimmune systems.) The new body may need some getting-used-to, but you can argue a brain in the correct configuration "fixes" most of these. $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Nov 11 '14 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I was going to use the restoration of the main character's brain as a mechanism for him to retain his trained skills and at least the notions of muscle memory and balance (these could be recovered through physical therapy, right?) As for continuity of configuration for this guy's immune system, though, wouldn't that kind of thing be encoded in his epigenetic code? $\endgroup$ – RandomDSdevel Nov 12 '14 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @RAndomDSdevel This sounds like the makings of a new question; "What would a clone NOT have that the original creature does?" Or "What aspects of a person does DNA not control?" Anyways, there are "memory" cells in an individual's immune system which are independent of their DNA (and epigenetic code). $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Nov 12 '14 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ There is some useless DNA at the end of the link that is used up when a germ cell turns into a complete cell. So cloned copies don't live as long as the original. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Nov 13 '14 at 0:47
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It seems like almost any disease or death leaves the central nervous system intact, for the most part. Heart attack. Or a gunshot wound to the heart. So you could do your scan and your analysis on the corpse, quickly before decay sets in.

The exception would be a disease that did attack the nervous system itself.

Also, you can take DNA from the big toe, or any other part. DNA is DNA, there's only one set per person.

The real question is whether such a scan taken at an instant would have any value later. For instance, the "mental state" is likely to be tied to the electrical activity that stops at the point of 'brain death'.

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