Floating inside the nucleus of a human cell, an assembler-built repair vessel performs some genetic maintenance. Stretching a supercoil of DNA between its lower pair of robot arms, the nanomachine gently pulls the unwound strand through an opening in its prow for analysis. Upper arms, meanwhile, detach regulatory proteins from the chain and place them in an intake port. The molecular structures of both DNA and proteins are compared to information stored in the database of a larger nanocomputer positioned outside the nucleus and connected to the cell-repair ship by a communications link. Irregularities found in either structure are corrected and the proteins reattached to the DNA chain, which re-coils into its original form.
With a diameter of only 50 nanometers, the repair vessel would be smaller than most bacteria and viruses, yet capable of therapies and cures well beyond the reach of present-day physicians. With trillions of these machines coursing through a patient's bloodstream, "internal medicine" would take on new significance. Disease would be attacked at the molecular level, and such maladies as cancer, viral infections and arteriosclerosis could be wiped out.