José A. Cruz Arzón Biomedical Techniques (BIOL 4997) May 8, 2013Dr. Elena González, Dr. Eneida Díaz, Dr. Robert RossRevolutionary DiscoveryThe 19th century, a very prominent era in world’s history. Distinguished by severalhistorical events that marked the history of humankind forever. Napoleon Bonaparte crownshimself emperor of France in this era by later taking control of almost the entire Europeancontinent. The American colonies began to gain independence from their European rulers,beginning with Haiti and later on, The United States of America. In economics, the IndustrialRevolution began, altering the economy worldwide. Karl Marx also promoted the ideas of whatis going to evolve in the communism later on. In music, Ludwig van Beethoven became one ofthe best musicians in the history thanks to his amazing symphonies and compositions. Even inscience new discoveries emerged; the molecule morphine was isolated by the first time inGermany by Frederich Sertürner in the 1804. Anyways, 19thcentury has let a very noticeablefootprint in our history. But let’s change the theme; I don’t want to bore you with a lot ofmonotonous historical events as they do in a common history class, no, I will like to have theprivilege to tell you a very weird but fascinating story, a story that not everybody rememberswell, and if they do, they do not tell it correctly. This is a story about a man, a scientist actually,that made a brilliant discovery ignored by the scientific community of his era. This is the story ofa revolutionary discovery that has shook science forever.It was 1887, in the island of Puerto Rico located in the Caribbean, just in the middle ofSouth and North America. There was this scientist named Dr. José Cruz Arzón, a much loved
friend of mine, I knew him very well, a talented man with a very wide vision of the world,always occupied playing with the magnificent world of science, a passionate man I must say,passionate for the things he do and for his future goals as a scientist. He studied in what is now,the Medical University of South Carolina, being one of the first scientists of the world to have aPh.D. in Neurobiology, a not well studied field by that time. He had an assistant, namedCharlene Rivera, who was a Biology student from the University of Puerto at Cayey that wasresearching with Dr. Cruz because one day she wanted to be also a neurobiologist. She was avery intelligent student, always devoted to help Dr. Cruz in everything he would need. Togetherthey were working in something unusual, not thought by another mind. Since the brain is a yetunexplored region, Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Charlene were working on a Shrinking Ray that couldshrink a car design by Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera, which they named Neuromobile 10nm, becauseit could shrink small as 10nm with people inside, enter in the blood vessels of a person and godirectly to the brain region to make closer studies of the nervous system. Dr. Cruz designs it withmaterials that the immune system of the body would recognize so it won’t attack theNeuromobile. Still this seems impossible, Dr. Cruz has already finished the shrinking ray, but hehas not being able to test it on the Neuromobile with people inside. This technique for Dr. Cruzand Mrs. Rivera seemed to have been developing slowly; meanwhile they have focused onstudying several genes synthesized in the brain that can me mutated by environmental factorssuch as the recently discovered, not well studied, Dysbindin-1 protein gene.“Hello, Dr. Cruz Arzón’s Research Lab, this is Charlene Rivera the research assistant”Mrs. Rivera answered the phone a Friday afternoon. “Dr. Cruz is for you” she said. “Can’t theyunderstand we are busy, science needs us” answered Dr. Cruz. “They say is urgent, the life of acountry depends on it” Mrs. Rivera replied. “What could be more important than saving lives
through the amazing tool of science?” said Dr. Cruz. He let what he was doing to go and answerthe phone. “Hello, Dr. Cruz here” he answered roughly because he doesn’t like being interruptedwhile working. He stayed a few minutes on the phone just hearing, when suddenly we madefacial expressions as he was shocked and amazed. Later on, he just hung up the phone and seateddown slowly still with the look of being shocked. Mr. Rivera approached toward him quietly andasked: “Doctor, is everything ok? I don’t like that look on your face”. He just lifted his head andlooks directly to Mrs. Rivera’s eyes and answered: “We need to go; we need to go to Brazil, yesMrs. Rivera, this is urgent, and the life of a country depends on it”. Mrs. Rivera, amazed by Dr.Cruz’s answer, she rapidly made all the plans to take a flight to Río de Janeiro, Brazil for animportant research adventure with Dr. Cruz. They didn’t loss time; Dr. Cruz started packing allthe scientific equipment they might need for this travel. What Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera didn’tknow is that they were about to make a brilliant discovery that could change the perspective ofscience of that era and the future times.While traveling in the plane to Brazil, Dr. Cruz explained Mrs. Rivera what was thesituation. The man that called that Friday afternoon was the president of Brazil himself. He hasheard about Dr. Cruz’s works and proposals, so he decided to call him for an important researchwork in Río de Janeiro. There was a community in Río de Janeiro, a poor community called“Flavelas de Marta”, which apparently, its people are suffering from different episodes ofhallucinations, delusions, stress attacks, and even emotional disorders. Some of them havepresented signs of disorganization in their speech and incoherence in their thinking. ThePresident was very worried because some of these people were getting out of control attemptingthe peace of the city, and maybe the country. Since Brazil is high influenced by witchcraft andother African paganisms, people are proposing that they can be possessed by spirits. Dr. Cruz
and Mrs. Rivera’s job is to find out what could be causing these people to hallucinate and act likethey are possessed, or they just are victims of not yet discovered neurological disease. It is ahard, but intriguing research job for these two scientists, fascinated by this new task toaccomplish.Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera arrived to Río Janeiro to Brazil and furthermore they arrived tothe community of “Flavelas de Marta”. As soon they entered the community, they instantly sawwhat was going on; they were people screaming, shouting, and saying incoherent ideas,hallucinating, and even having bipolar disorders, very sever ones. Dr. Cruz was very amazed, inhis many years as a studier of the human nervous system and human behavior, he had never seensuch an episode before, and he knew it was going to be a hard research. As soon as he finishedobserving people behavior and recording it for a while, he began interviewing some of the peoplein the village that apparently were “healthy” or not possessed. Not even a single person was ableto give Dr. Cruz a possible scientific answer that could help him resolve the problem. “This isgoing to be a tough one Mrs. Rivera, are you ready for this?” Dr. Cruz asked. “Yes, after all, thisresearch experience could look good on my portfolio” answered Mrs. Rivera. Immediately, Dr.Cruz and Mrs. Rivera knew that they were facing something unknown by science, not yetstudied, or well ignored by scientist, who knows? Dr. Cruz immediately began his work alongwith Mrs. Rivera and the lab research team that the Brazilian government assigned, and for thenext days they will be dedicated to find the answer of this enigma.Some days have already passed, and Dr. Cruz’s research has been very difficult toresolve, even with Mrs. Rivera’s help, the research apparently did not show signs of progress.Dr. tried everything he had learned and researched about the brain and the nervous system; hedid a normal neurological test to see how well the reflections of the affected people were, he also
measured action potential, neuronal transmission and signaling to the muscles and mouth, but theresults were quite normal for everyone. Dr. Cruz didn’t know what else to do, he did everyneurological test he knew, everything was normal. He also dissected a brain from a dead personthat suffered that same “possession” and the brain seemed normal. He was about to surrender,there was nothing else to do, since the technology of that period was not high advanced,especially in the field of Neuroscience. Suddenly, the light of hope illuminated Dr. Cruz’s mind;he had an idea, a dangerous one, but it was the only chance to find the solution to this problem.“Mrs. Rivera, I have an idea” Dr. Cruz said. “And which is it Doctor?” asked Mrs. Rivera. “Icould use the Shrinking Ray to shrink the Neuromobile 10nm with me inside, and go travelthrough the blood vessels to the brain and look for the problem. Meantime, I can test both theNeuromobile 10nm and the Shrinking Ray at the same time.” answered Dr. Cruz. “But Doctor! Itis too dangerous, we haven’t tested the Neuromobile 10nm yet, we don’t know if a human beingcan survive in it, you could die inside!” desperately replied Mrs. Rivera. “It is our only Mrs.Rivera, we don’t have much time, besides if I die, I will die doing what I love the most,researching” said Dr. Cruz. “Well Doctor, if you go, I’ll go. I can’t let all the fun part to you”said Mrs. Rivera. “That research spirit will take you very far my dear assistant. Know lets go andcall Dr. Delaine Zayas-Bazán in Puerto Rico, to see if she can do us the favor of sending theShrinking Ray and Neuromobile 10nm” finished saying Dr. Cruz, while both scientists go to theapartment where they are staying, to call Dr. Zayas-Bazán, Dr. Cruz’s research colleague.The Shrinking Ray and the Neuromobile 10nm have arrived, Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Riveraprepared everything for the shrinking and the injection into the blood vessels of an affectedvolunteer man; in fact this is going to be the first machine that could actually shrink and object ina matter of seconds. Dr. Zayas-Bazán came to Río de Janeiro too, to assist Dr. Cruz in his
research. Everything was ready; Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera were inside the Neuromobile and Dr.Zayas-Bazán was also ready, she was in charge of starting the Shrinking Ray whenever theywere ready. Everything was set, Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera were both scared, they didn’t knowwhat was going to happen to them, whether they will survive or not. The shrinking started; theray was fired toward the Neuromobile, with Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera inside. In just a fewseconds they were as tiny as a virus, not seen by the naked eyed, how did Dr. Zayas-Bazán wasgoing to know if they were there? The answer is that Dr. Cruz design the Neuromobile sensitiveto Wright dye, so the only thing that Dr. Zayas-Bazán had to do is poured a little bit of Wrightdye in the area that they shrank, and immediately the area turned purple, indicating that theshrank Neuromobile was there. Dr. Zayas-Bazán took that substance and put it inside a syringethat rapidly was supplied to the man. The only think Dr. Zayas-Bazán could do is wait. By Dr.Cruz’s orders, after an hour and a half, Dr. Zayas-Bazán will supply a tablet to the patient thatwill automatically make the patient him vomit and in that way he can expel Dr. Cruz and Mrs.Rivera.Surprisingly, Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera were alive inside the Neuromobile 10nm whichwas inside the human body. It was amazing! During their way to the brain, they saw everythingin the blood, erythrocytes, leukocytes, proteins floating everywhere, antibodies, macrophages,lipids, and everything they could ever have studied in the Biology field. They were approachingthe brain and one of the things that Dr. Cruz could conclude is that the materials that he chose todesign the Neuromobile were perfect because macrophages and antibodies haven’t tried to attackthem yet, that is a great step. They reach the brain; Dr. Cruz almost faints, he have never in hislife seen something such majestically big, the brain as the size of the moon, compared to theirsize. The Dr. Cruz was desperately recording everything he was seeing, while Mrs. Rivera
focused on driving the car for a while. One of the things he saw was that the ventricle of thebrain was enlarged, it was not normal size. Yet Dr. Cruz recorded it as a possible symptom, hewas asking why he didn’t notice when he dissected the brain; it was a question that in themoment he could not ask, but yet he had his theories, maybe the enlargement of the brain was asymptom that emerge later on in patient’s life. When they entered a little bit more inside theventricle he notice something strange, but familiar, there was this peptide floating in lowconcentrations in the area of the ventricle. “I could swear I have seen this peptide before” saidDr. Cruz. Suddenly while Dr. Cruz was thinking, Mrs. Rivera said amazed and shocked:“Doctor! Don’t you realize? That is our protein, the protein that we study in the lab, Disbinding-1 protein”. After a few seconds of an intense quite Dr. Cruz screamed happily: “It is! Of course itis! Look at that sequence of amino acids; that has to be Disbindin-1 protein. Oh my God! I can’tbelieve it! Good job Mrs. Rivera”. Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Rivera had the opportunity to look at theprotein they have been studying for a long time. One of the things they notice is that the proteinis in low concentrations in this patient. “That’s weird, although we don’t know the function ofthe Disbindin-1 protein, I can assure that is found in the nervous system in high concentrations,not this low” said Dr. Cruz. “Doctor! Maybe it’s because this could be another symptom for thisphenomenon, low concentrations of Disbindin-1” suggested Mrs. Rivera. “You could be rightMrs. Rivera; that is what I was thinking. Maybe this low concentration of this protein is due to agenetic mutation caused by environmental factors” said Dr. Cruz. “Do you think?” asked Mrs.Rivera. “Maybe yes, Mrs. Rivera, remember that this is a poor community, vulnerable andexposed to different variants of contamination or maybe malnutrition” answered Dr. Cruz. “Itsquiet logical, it seems that we have a lot of work to do Dr. Cruz” replied Mrs. Rivera. “We suredo Mrs. Rivera, let’s start with the name shall we?” suggested Dr. Cruz. “I would suggest that
you call it Schizophrenia” said Mrs. Rivera. “How did you come up with that name” asked Dr.Cruz. “It comes from the Latin, it means ambiguous or splitted mind, we can use it as a referenceto the bipolar disorder the patients present” said Mrs. Rivera. “Future research ahead of you, mydear assistant” concluded Dr. Cruz while they feel that the patient was starting to get sick, readyto bring back the researchers to the real world.This is a research that started few years ago, not even with today’s days technology wehave been able to decode the function of this protein in the brain. This is the real and originalstory of how today’s Schizophrenia was discovered. Do not believe that old-fashioned story inwhich Dr. Emil Kraepelin was the first one to observe it as a disease, and Dr. Bleuler the one thatcoined the term. That is just a fallacy invented by the scientific community to occult the fact thatwere Puertorrican scientists the ones that first observed, studied, analyzed and coined the term.You are responsible of treasuring this story, the real one, and pass it from generation togeneration, so all patients in the world could know that from long time ago, there have beenscientists working hard to find a cure for the disease. It was the responsibility of Dr. Cruz andMrs. Rivera to do it, but it’s the modern scientist’s responsibility to continue his research nowand find the final cure for this disease. There are people out there that are waiting for the day thatthey could see normal things without hallucinating, hear normal noises, speak and think clearly,and have normal emotional behaviors. Don’t blind your eyes and cover your ears at their voice,hear them, help them, use research if you need to, but just be the light of hope that these peoplewant to see from this world.