- "I think targeted bioweapons are a load of old osik, actually. Against humans, anyway."
"And why would you say that?"
"Because, unless you have some way of identifying a complete genome—not just a few genes, not even ninety-nine percent of the genome—there just aren't convenient Corellian genes or Mandalorian genes or whatever for a pathogen to hook up to. Not even if you call it a nanovirus, which I also think is osik, by the way. You'd have to find a way for the virus to identify the whole genome, or nothing."
- ―Doctor Mij Gilamar and Doctor Ovolot Qail Uthan, discussing the difficulties of developing a nanovirus
A nanovirus, also known as a nanokiller, was a selective virus designed to kill only an individual or specific groups of people that it had been developed to, without harming other undesired individuals.
Nanoviruses targeting specific beings or groups of beings were notoriously difficult to produce due to the need of identifying an entire genome, or else the virus would not attack the target. Routine natural mutation, interbreeding, and genetic engineering would make an individual immune to the virus's effects. This weakness could be skirted by having the virus target a specific, unchanging gene sequence that would make its target or targets stand out from the larger population such as the one used to increase the rate of aging within clone troopers. More dangerously, a nanovirus could be keyed less specifically in order to kill subjects of an entire race, such as humans, indiscriminately.
One example of a nanovirus was the FG36 virus, under development at the start of the Clone Wars by the Separatist-aligned Doctor Ovolot Qail Uthan. FG36 was specifically engineered to target the Fett genome present in the Grand Army of the Republic's clone troopers. Uthan and her scientific team were sent to a secret lab on the remote planet of Qiilura to carry out their work. However, before development of the virus could be completed, Uthan was captured by the clone commandos of Omega Squad and brought into Republic custody. The lab was destroyed and development of the virus presumably halted; Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, however, kept the unfinished nanovirus and Uthan was held on Coruscant as part of a back-up plan for stopping the clone troopers, should they ever turned on him. After the formation of the Galactic Empire, Palpatine used FG36 on Uthan's home planet of Gibad, killing all sentient life on the planet. Because of this and the danger the virus continued to pose, Uthan—having been rescued from her incarceration at the Valorum Center by Mandalorian Kal Skirata and his associates—developed an antigen to immunize against FG36. The completed antigen was spread first to Skirata's clan and across Mandalore, and then to the Jedi community of Master Djinn Altis.
A variant of the nanovirus, was used on Mon Mothma during negotiations with Furgan, the ambassador for the Cardian system. He brought his own drinks with the real drink on one hip, the nanovirus on the other. The nanovirus was made to kill her slowly, and make it look as if the Rebellion was dying, being bureaucratized by the New Republic. It did not kill her, because Cardia lost control over Terpfen who immediately told what happened to the New Republic on the toxin. Then, Cilghal, a Jedi Learner at that time, healed her by removing the nanovirus particles from her.
A variant of the FG36 virus was later developed by the Imperial Remnant's Council of Moffs during the time of the Second Galactic Civil War. It was first used during the First Battle of Roche, where it specifically targeted the Verpine soldier caste, while leaving other Verpine unharmed. Soon after, the virus was developed to target the Hapan Royal House, and another strain to target Boba Fett and any other member of the Fett genome was deployed on Mandalore.. However, the effectiveness of the Mandalore-deployed nanovirus was questionable, due to the cure to the baseline virus that had been spread across the world decades prior, in the weeks following the Clone Wars.
- "Tides of Terror"—Star Wars Tales 4 (First appearance)
- Republic Commando: Hard Contact
- Republic Commando: True Colors (Mentioned only)
- Imperial Commando: 501st
- Jedi Search
- Dark Apprentice (Mentioned only)
- Champions of the Force
- Omen (Mentioned only)
- Abyss (Mentioned only)
- Ascension (Mentioned only)
- Apocalypse (Mentioned only)