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Piper Maitland | The Resurrection Gene

Behind-the-Scenes Science in ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT

For the last thirty-three years, the dinner table conversations in our house has centered around cloning, stem cells, MRSA, and H1N1—that’s what happens when a nurse marries a doctor, and their son becomes a biochemist. When we’re around our medical friends, the talk often turns to the future of science—and also the history of diseases. For a writer, this is great fodder for a paranormal novel.

When I began writing ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT, I wanted to honor the immortals’ mythology, but I also wanted to give it a twist. Like most predators, the vampires in AWTN have a biological edge. They are physically attractive. Their brains are more developed than a human’s—some are quite gifted with telepathy. They are physically superior. They run faster, never become ill, and heal at an extraordinary rate.

But my main character was an ex-historian, presently working as a London tour guide. She wouldn’t know a test tube from a turnip. Luckily, Jude Barrett walked into the book and told me to stop fretting. Not only was he a biochemist, he’d worked at a pharmaceutical company in Yorkshire, conducting research on mice, and he’d discovered something extraordinary.

Here’s a peek at his research notes:

From Dr. Jude Barrett’s Laboratory Journal

Day 1

HDL* research began today. I harvested stem cells from mice embryos. Next, I corrupted the genetic code via radiation.

*high-density lipoprotein

Day 2

After the addition of enzymes and growth factors, I was able to induce the stem cells to form tissues. This included skin, muscles, bone, liver, and nervous tissues.

Day 10

Today the mutatated mice opened their eyes. Outwardly, they appear identical to the control mice, except their growth rate is 30% faster than the control. Also, their behavior is markedly different. They are aggressive, light-sensitive, and will not eat or drink.

Rule out porphyria.

Day 17

The mutated mice are exhibiting physical changes. Their fur is thicker and longer. Both the males and females are hypersexual.

Day 22

The experimental mice appear to be hibernating and cannot be roused.

Day 23

The control mice were introduced into the cages with the experimental mice. A breeding frenzy ensued. The experimental mice bit the control group and drank their blood. The control mice appeared to be dead. However, an hour later the control mice appeared normal.

Day 24

The control mice are aggressive and hypersexual. They have an aversion to sunlight, food, and water.

Rule out virus.

Day 25

I sedated the experimental mice and took biopsies from various organs. When I examined the tissues under the microscope, no abnormalities were found other than a profusion of stem cells. One mouse (Specimen X, male) has developed long upper incisors.

Day 26

Specimen X was sedated, and I removed his liver. The exam showed ½ normal tissue and ½ stem cells.

Day 27

Specimen X survived the surgery. He is running in his wheel. I have named him Prometheus.

Day 28

Operated on Prometheus. I noticed a bud of tissue where the liver had been. Under the microscope, the tissue was teeming with primitive stem cells. They were rapidly forming a new liver.

Day 30

Prometheus attacked one of the mutated mice and bit off its foot. I isolated the injured rodent (Specimen Z, male).

Day 31

Specimen Z has grown a new foot. I’m gobsmacked. This extraordinary rejuvenating ability is reminiscent of the salamander, but it has never been reported in mice.

Day 38

A strain of mycoplasma pulmonis has infected both hoards. The control group are exhibiting signs of respiratory distress, light-sensitivity, and congestion. The mutated mice appear to be immune. Could they have hyper-strong immune sytems?

Day 55

Experiments have begun on the offspring of the mutated and control mice. When hybrid mice are bitten by the mutated specimens, a mild allergic response occurs in both the host and recipient. The human equivalent would be a reaction to a flu shot.

Day 365

The lifespan of a mouse is approximately twelve months to three years. The control group are showing signs of aging, but the experimental strain are active, alert, and vibrant. They are more active nocturnally.

Day 730

Today the experimental strain are two years old and still have not shown signs of disease of aging. 

Day 800

While sequencing the HDL gene in the stem cells, I discovered the gene that is responsible for the cell’s immortality. I am calling it R-99, the Resurrection Gene.  If I’m able to obtain major funding, clinical trials can begin.

Later that year, Jude published his findings in an article in the British Scientific Journal. Here’s the abstract:

British Scientific Journal Review Article

Mechanisms of Disease:

Stem Cells and Transference of Gene

Jude F. Barrett, Ph.D.

It has been postulated that the longevity gene in mice is located near the gene that codes for high density lipoproteins. Mice were interbred for 20 generations with HDLs that were two standard deviations above the norm.

After twenty generations the mice exhibited 99% levels of HDL.

5% of the mice became aggressive. Blood analysis revealed a stem cell leukemia had developed. When placed in the cage with the control mice, the mutated hoard attacked and drank the blood of the control group.  After one hour, the control mice revived and became aggressive.

There were other unusual findings in the experimental mice. They had extraordinary rejuvenation processes in all organs except the heart and brain. Also, the control mice that had been bitten developed stem cell leukemia with organ regenerative powers.

It is hypothesized that gene transfer occurred through stem cells. This novel method of transference may apply to other genes.


After Jude’s article was published, a burly, redheaded fellow showed up at the lab in Yorkshire. His name was Moose Tipper, and he claimed to be a headhunter for a London pharmaceutical company. But he seemed dodgy, rough and unpolished. He offered Jude two million dollars in exchange for his research notes.

Jude refused. But Moose Tipper wouldn’t leave. He stood beside the cages, watching the mice run in their wheels. Then he looked back at Jude.

"I suffer from the same condition as your mice," Moose said.

Before Jude could answer, the man shot across the room and knocked Jude into an instrument tray. Everything clattered to the floor—forceps, scalpels, clamps. Jude grabbed a scalpel and plunged it into Moose’s carotid artery. Black, tarry blood streamed down the man’s shirt. He yanked out the scalpel and ran away.

Jude rang the police immediately. While he waited for them to arrive, he scraped tissue from the scalpel and put it under the microscope. The specimen was full of stem cells—very similar to the samples that Jude had taken from his mutated mice.

At this point, Jude realized that the R-99 gene existed in a subset of humans, a type that craved blood, was hypersensitive to sunlight, healed at an accelerated rate, and was basically immortal: Vampires.




32 comments posted.

Re: Piper Maitland | The Resurrection Gene

I'm intrigued. Loved reading the research notes.
(Mary Preston 12:52pm December 1, 2011)

Can't wait to read this
(Mary Lynch 6:27am December 1, 2011)

I dont think I have ever read research notes in a book but I liked it. It was very interesting to see what was being studied and results. :)
LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com
(April Harvey 7:10am December 1, 2011)

How cool, not to mention fascinating - this is definitely different from other books I have read - BUT - it is time to expand my horizons, isn't it? :-)
(Felicia Ciaudelli 8:02am December 1, 2011)

Love a good medical mystery.
Theresa N
(Theresa Norris 8:41am December 1, 2011)

that is a great way to get us interested in the book. what a great beginning.
(Pam Howell 9:13am December 1, 2011)

Attention Grabbing Matter of Fact A Great Plot Too!
Way to Go!!!
(Sandra Spilecki 11:38am December 1, 2011)

I have to say I've never read a book with Notes like these but
I think it will be great
(Victoria Gillilan 11:41am December 1, 2011)

Sounds really good, I'd love to read it.
(Wilma Frana 12:11pm December 1, 2011)

WOW!! I used to work in the field of clinical studies with drug companies, this sounds amazing!
(Carla Carlson 12:21pm December 1, 2011)

My first book with research notes. But I look forward to
seeing what happens. Just the notes themselves made me want to
read the whole story
(Brandi Gillilan 12:22pm December 1, 2011)

What a wonderfully new take on the vampire mythology - I
really want to read this book :D
(Ilona Fenton 1:36pm December 1, 2011)

Very interesting... thank you for sharing!
(Colleen Conklin 2:13pm December 1, 2011)

I never read research notes. I am looking forward to reading this book. I do love to read books that the stories lines on base on the medical field. Your book sounds really interesting and exciting. Vampires, I love them. I want to wish you happy Holidays.
(Joanne Altieri 3:32pm December 1, 2011)

I found that extemely fascinating - anything is possible!!
(Jeanne Sheats 3:45pm December 1, 2011)

That's interesting! I'll add it to my to-read list next time I go to a book store or library. Thanks.
(May Pau 4:33pm December 1, 2011)

Wow! I love reading the research notes!
(Cindy Murphy 5:20pm December 1, 2011)

Normally I wouldn't read a vampire book, but you put a medical twist to the storyline and my ears perked up!! I definately have to read this book to find out what happens!! It sounds like a very plausible story, not like the everyday vampire stories that are on the shelves now. Thank you for taking the time to sound more like Robin Cook and write something that is sure to be a real page turner!! Have a wonderful Christmas!!
(Peggy Roberson 5:41pm December 1, 2011)

This sounds so good, I would love to read it.
(Debbie Penny 6:12pm December 1, 2011)

Sounds very interesting, it's on my TBR list!
(Cheryl Lynne 6:18pm December 1, 2011)

This book sounds really good. I'd love to read it. Enjoyed your thorough excerpt of the book! Thanks.
(Rich Cook 6:24pm December 1, 2011)

I'm intrigued as well. I'd love to get my hands on this book!
(Sabrena Pattat 6:57pm December 1, 2011)

sounds like a great read!!thanks jen
(Jennifer Beck 9:19pm December 1, 2011)

Oh, this story sounds really interesting! I love the journal
entries! I'll have to admit I almost didn't read them because
of the length of the post but I found myself, with each entry,
becoming more and more intrigued! This one is going on my
TBR/wishlist! Thank you for the giveaway!
(Laura Henderson 10:01pm December 1, 2011)

I love anything associated with England
(Catherine Myers 10:23pm December 1, 2011)

This has me intrigued. I love getting a book that is totally different and this definately sounds different.
Thank you!
(Patti Paonessa 10:28pm December 1, 2011)

Interesting! Thanks for the giveaway.
(Jennifer Beyer 10:30pm December 1, 2011)

Sounds amazing. A little like the Historian or something by Raymond Khoury. Right up my alley!
(Molly Wilsbacher 11:24pm December 1, 2011)

Ooh a new foot! Exciting! Everything I read about this book just makes me more
excited about it!
(Lexi Hansen 1:14am December 3, 2011)

Those must be really interesting conversations that you have. Since I can't stand seeing any blood other than my own, I'd probably be miserable at the three jobs your family practices. But my sister is a nurse.
As for the book, it sounds very interesting to me, though biology was not even one of my school subjects; I preferred chemistry and physics. But as long as I don't have to see anything bloody, I'm ok.
(Sigrun Schulz 1:25am December 3, 2011)

Loved the post; it was a great read. I can't wait to read this.
(Tracey Dent 12:05pm December 4, 2011)

Those scientific facts must be in your blood. Your research seems like you had a fine time weaving genetics into the story. I love medical mysteries so thanks for keeping a pulse on the genre.
(Alyson Widen 2:35pm December 4, 2011)

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