1. RobertD

    RobertD New Member

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    Biochemistry Question, if possible

    Discussion in 'Research' started by RobertD, Mar 4, 2017.

    Hello Everyone,

    This is my first return to this forum in a few years. The last time I attempted to post here, I was not yet ready as a writer to accept the criticism I was bound to get as a novice writer. I was too sensitive and I was asking unanswerable, stupid questions. So, I thought I would give it another shot.

    I have been writing my book for many years now and I am nearing completion (final three chapters.) In short, it is a type of medical thriller which was always way too much for me to attempt because I don't work and have no occupational experience in the field. But I am not lazy. One of the reasons it has taken so many years to write is the research necessary for a non-medical person to write plausible medical fiction was sometimes overwhelming. But I have run into one last road block that the internet has not helped me with, so I thought I would give it a shot here in case there are any medical types on the forum.

    What I need to know is this: When the antibodies in the blood of a person cured of a disease are used to create additional serum to create additional doses of a cure, how much usable serum can be taken from the blood of one person. Specifically, can it be synthisized and used for unlimited duplications, or must the whole blood be used of that person for only one additional cure serum?

    If this question is outside the scope of the forum, then I understand. Obviously, I have been able to gather massive amounts of usable information on the net, but this one dilemma has eluded me.

    Many thanks for any replies.

    Bob
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    No clue. Have you tried calling a doctor?
     
  3. RobertD

    RobertD New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I asked my family GP, he just said it wasn't his field and to ask a biochemist. Of course, I don't any biochemists personally. It was just a long here. Thanks.

    Bob
     
  4. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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  5. RobertD

    RobertD New Member

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    Wow, thank you matwoolf. That is very helpful. In the story, the cured patient is obviously alive and recovering. The cured patient's blood is then used to pass the cure on to another person. I just wondered how much "cure" dosages could be created from one person, taking a small amount. But your information is very useful.

    Bob
     
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  6. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    It's been many years since I got into immunology, but at my last reading, they didn't necessarily use antibodies to create a vaccine.

    Antibodies are huge molecules in the bloodstream, and they work by latching onto the cell membranes of bacteria and generally either precipitating them out (so the precipitates are filtered by the body organs) or breaking them open, killing them. When an antibody is used, it triggers the body to produce more of the same so that the infection can be fought. So a vaccine will contain the ruptured cells of the microorganism that is to be protected against and antibodies created to fight it.

    The antibody reaction is very specific. When discussing such things, the analogy was lock-and-key. You can have many similar-looking keys to a particular lock, but only one will open it. The vaccine against tetanus (Clostridium tetani) is ineffective against Cl. botulinum and vice-versa. Same genus, different species. (Interestingly, these two closely-related bacteria have a toxin that works in opposite ways - tetanus makes muscles uncontrollably rigid, botulism makes muscles uncontrollably relaxed.)

    Once upon a time in forensic labs, they used them to help narrow the field of suspects or provide supporting proof of an assertion (that the suspect was in fact, guilty), but DNA pretty much made this redundant. There are people referred-to as "secretors" in that their body fluids contained one or more particular proteins. There were immuno-precipitation tests for this: a suspect's fluid was introduced to a particular antibody and if there was a reaction, then it would be judged "positive" and added to the body of evidence.
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Quote from Night of the Comet. I realize that there's no assurance whatsoever that the number is accurate. It's just how one low-budget movie handled a similar question. Also, the person remembering 300 ccs was already starting to lose her cognitive function, so....

    You know, I can't remember. How much blood were we expected to get from these people?
    Oh, 300 ccs. Yes, that's it.
    That can't be right. If we draw 300 ccs a day, they'll expire altogether.
    No, I don't think so, now that we've terminated brain functions. I mean, they're brain-dead. All they can do now is manufacture blood.
    Well, maybe. We aren't gonna get anything like 300 ccs out of those children.
    No. But, we will out of that teenager. I hope she's just as healthy as she looks.
     
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    First off the human body has roughly a gallon of blood, and 40%+ loss can kill the person.

    Though I suppose if you have the equipment to study and separate the blood to extract the
    necessary components that hold the 'cure'. Though it will be a big plus if the donor and
    recipient are the same blood type, to cut down on the severity of killing the patient. Then
    they would have to accumulate enough of the donor's 'cure' to be able to cure the patient.
    Though this is all theoretical, considering that it is more a work of fiction for the most part
    as a hard pressed solution when nothing else works.

    Or you can use the Mad Max Fury Road method and just transfuse the donors blood to the
    patient and it will have minor side effects (provided they match) like a fever, but the intended
    result is that it gives the patient the needed 'cure'.

    One is more scientific and can be used as a way to build tension and suspense, because it is
    not certain if it will work as a result. And the other is just a fast and easy fix, they may or may
    not do much except kill the patient or both patient and donor.

    Though for the former you have to designate as to why the donor blood has elements that
    the patient does not. A bit of trial and error on that part, but that is how most sciences
    work in the first place.
     
  9. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    Actually, that's nothing like "how most sciences work".
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    9 pints iirc , however the major issue here is blood types and incompatibility with the index patient - personally i'd say synthesise the cure from a culture of the index patients blood instead of trying to use it directly

    http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/hsa/en/Health_Products_Regulation/Consumer_Information/Public_Advisories/Influenza_A_H1N1_information/H1N1_Vaccines/understanding-vaccines--vaccine-development-and-production.html
     
  11. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    That is true, Quantum Physics is primarily un-provable. But most sciences start with a theory
    then move on to testing for a result based on the theory. If the tests do not result in the manner
    with which the theory, then they change up the tests until they get the results they want.
    So no it is all perfect considering when doing something that has yet to be proven, is
    exact science. o_O

    No it is trial and error. Science is not perfect on everything. Otherwise currently we would be
    100% disease and cancer free, and maybe have a colony on the moon or Mars. So science is
    not as perfect as you seem to think it is.
     
  12. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    Got some huge assumptions in that paragraph not the least of which is that I think it's perfect. And as a scientist, I know I have a excellent perspective on the topic. You stating, "No it is..." is easily countered by even a little research. But the resulting knowledge will interfere with your unfounded beliefs.

    As for science's imperfections being responsible for us not colonizing the moon or Mars? That's one of the most stupid things I've read for a long while. The comment about diseases and cancer exceeds it though.
     
  13. SethLoki

    SethLoki Retired Autodidact Contributor

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    I'm interested to know if this has always been the case, as the OP doesn't mention when/where the book is set. I'm not a scientist but close relatives are, and I'm aware they practice the scientific method nowadays with a lot of rigour. I've imagined olden times though to have been less cohesive, a world with fewer communication channels wherein the higher seats of learning, with better methods, made all the strides. But would they have been at the top of the bell curve? Witch docs, quacks—making up a good proportion of the 'go to' people of the day, at best would have been employing trial and error yes?
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    spot on - the early work on radioactivity and critical mass was very much trial and error with experiments consisting of putting two pieces of fissionable material together until they started to glow and then whipping them apart... this also explains why many early researchers died of cancer

    It is also true that trial, error and observation are at the very core of scientific enquiry... essentially 'what happens if I do this' is what led to every major scientific discovery, although its now more of the "I postulate that this will happen if I do this , lets see if i'm right" mode
     
  15. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    If you aren't able to find the answer on the internet, and your GP doesn't know, then just decide. The average person isn't going to know it's not scientifically sound, and neither are most doctors, by the sounds of it. It's your book, and there are going to be very few who can refute the choice that you make. Or, alternatively, shoot off an e-mail to the World Health Organisation. Or look up biochemists on Twitter. One of them will help you out.
     
  16. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    No, it most definitely hasn't always been the case. Historically there was lots of what today might be called quackery at many (if not all) levels of science. Early astronomers risked their well-being (courtesy of the Pope) if they suggested the Earth was not at the center of the universe; check out words like phlogiston and caloric; early medicine had little understanding of things like infections. There's heaps of examples around. One particularly good book that tracks the attainment of knowledge is The Ascent of Man by Bronowski, but there's others around. A good history of medicine would be illuminating too. (Sorry, I can't suggest one right now.) As far as "trial and error" being used - to me the term means little more than "random guess, did that work?" - it may have been, but is no longer the case.

    There were instances when the impact of myth or religion had a lot of impact on any attempt to explain the phenomenal world. On top of all that, the limits of knowledge at any time will determine to a degree, forward progress. One example: caloric was believed to be in all substances, because nobody knew at the time of a chemical reaction that absorbed heat, rather than giving it off. Then someone discovered an endothermic chemical reaction, and that threw everyone into a tizz.
     
  17. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    And to the OP - I'm sorry I got off-topic; furthermore, I tend to regard "disease" as being synonymous with "microbial infection". I'm pretty sure my recollection from biochem classes is correct regarding antibodies and vaccines.
     
  18. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    I think this is starting to get some information the OP can work with. Regarding antibodies/antigens, there are ways of producing them, but it appears to be somewhat complicated. It may be that the OP needs to backtrack a bit to write this into the novel. An antigen is the thing that an antibody identifies as foreign and attempts to neutralise. (In the OP's case, the disease.)

    I wrote earlier that antibodies are huge protein molecules though I haven't looked into just how huge. During biochem classes though, our lecturer mentioned that some are in the millions, for atomic mass. Water by comparison has an atomic mass of 18. Proteins are made up of amino acids of which there are (or were, in the 1980s when I studied) 20 main ones; a sequence of a DNA strand will provide the information to work with one amino acid (atomic mass anywhere between 75 to just under 200), so a pretty long strand is needed for the bigger proteins. Many biochemical reactions (A + B = C) have a natural equilibrium to the left, meaning A and B just sit around doing nothing, until there's a shortage of C (product), then the reaction (A + B) proceeds rapidly to return the equilibrium. In ToeKneeBlack's scenario, the horse's system needs to manufacture all the blood components first, and the equilibria addressed, hence the time frame.
     

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