Chapter #2: The Light - The Origin of Raf (Origins Collection)
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” -Edgar Allan Poe
Panacea Laboratories was located in the heart of San Fransisco. It was, from the outside, unimpressive. Even from the inside, there was nothing in appearance that gave the viewer a sense of awe. It was however in academics, a collection of people who could think outside the box. Human Resources had been given instructions to choose staff who made connections between things that were proven, but not normally thought of.
The main lab building was physically located behind the San Fransisco General Hospital, only seven stories tall, gray, and unimpressive. Formally it was just an office building, but was purchased and converted for convenience. Being close to the hospital made it easier for it’s primary funding to come from doing lab work for the doctors nearby.
Some projects related to the growing elderly population of city, such as research into alzheimer's. Finding out if there was a correlation between aluminum and the condition was taking up some the lab time. Other similar projects which were funded by research grants by the hospital association were also on the books, but the owners of the lab were only following these projects for covering their overhead so they could pursue their main goals of extending the human life span, with the intent of use in space exploration.
Ralph Shea BaDeet, or Raf as his co-workers called him, had a problem. It wasn’t the kind of problem that ruined lives, or disrupted the work place, it was the kind that made a person look better then what they really were. He got target fixated, especially at work. It went to such an extent that he was known to work without eating, to the point of passing out.
Raf’s career was officially Biomedical engineering, but he tended to look deeper into the darkness of the unknown, at least when it came to how cellular regeneration was concerned. Technically, all he was suppose to do was combine, splice, and find DNA sequencers. What he actually did was run his own experiments.
The current official project was to explore human hibernation possibilities using DNA sequences from other mammals. Which he did run, and complete as was his job. But the powers that be, the administrators of the lab, were more educated in marketing then biology. So he was able to follow his own side projects with immunity, as long as they were connected at least in a small way, to whatever it was he was suppose to be working on.
Hence why his lab was currently filled with insects, inside of bear organs.
If asked, he would just make an off handed comment that the DNA he was using from the bear organs integrated easier with insect DNA for testing, and he could save time and money by testing the insects first before the sapiens samples. What he was actually doing was looking for Diapause sections of insect DNA and RNA sequences.
The difference between hibernation and diapause was massive in Raf’s opinion. Hibernation only slowed the cellular process, diapause stopped it cold. Organs could be operated on without the risk of injections, blood loss, or even death. If a human could be put into partial diapause, organs could be completely replaced with stem cell cloning. Bad liver? Take a three month nap and wake up with a new liver. That simple. Every organ and group of body parts could be re-grown with the current stem cell cloning techniques without all the problems connected to them.
That isn’t even close to the tip of the iceberg either, Raf continued in his thoughts, space travel, radiation sickness, endless uses for human diapause.
But he wasn’t getting anywhere. The DNA sequences needed to do what he wanted were just incompatible. He knew this at the outset of the project, but was looking anyway to see how far he could get, to see what hadn’t been seen yet more or less. Embryonic diapause was already a factor in humans, had been known for some time. A competent blastocyst stage embryo finds itself in an unreceptive uterus, it delays development. But is not considered a general characteristic of all mammals, triggering it at a later development stage was turning out to be impossible.
Raf had pursued this project almost immediately back in 2013, after reading a report by Ptak, Modlinski and Loi, scientists who worked with Biomed Central. They had successfully demonstrated diapause in sheep, further studies showed that it could also be found in other mammals, with weasels making a record at nine months. Raf was hoped to not only beat the record, eventually in humans, but to do so artificially, so it could be used as a form of stasis for space exploration. The reason for insects as a source was simple. They already could beat the record, in fact, it had already been determined that there was virtually no limit to insect stasis.
Raf’s cell phone rang.
“Yes?”. Raf wasn’t the kind of guy to answer a phone in a polite way.
“Mister BaDeet? This is Dr. Eleanor Tarter from the lab station at Lake Obersee, Antarctica. We have found something you might be interested in.”
Next The Light #3