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The Biology of scary things. Vampires. Porphyria : Disorder that results from mutations in one of 8 genes--porphyrin metabolism. Porphyrin rings--build hemoglobin--key for blood--carries oxygen. Phorphyrus: Greek for Purple. Porphyrin. Tetrapyrrolic ring structure

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Vampires

  • Porphyria: Disorder that results from mutations in one of 8 genes--porphyrin metabolism.

  • Porphyrin rings--build hemoglobin--key for blood--carries oxygen.

  • Phorphyrus: Greek for Purple


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Porphyrin

  • Tetrapyrrolic ring structure

  • 4 pyrrole units linked with methane bridges

  • Pigments basis for:

    • Heme

    • Chlorophyls

    • Bacteriochlorophyls


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Heme

  • Prosthetic group in hemoglobins and myoglobins, O2 transport and storage.

  • Iron conjugated protoporphyrin


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Vampires

  • Symptoms of Porphyria:

    • reddish/purple urine

    • bloody gums

    • sensitivity to sunlight

    • itchiness and or blister formation from sun contact

    • hair growth and thickening of skin


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  • General Symptomology:___Abdominal pain___Abdominal tenderness___Loss of appetite___Nausea___Vomiting___Constipation___Carbohydrate craving___Breast secretions___Diarrhea___Partial ileus [Intestinal blockage]___Abdominal distention___Dysuria [Painful Urination]___Bladder Dysfunction___Urinary Retention___Amenorrhea [Lack of menses]


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  • Physical Findings of Acute Attack___Red or dark urine___Tachycardia [Pulse] >100___Labile hypertension >90 diastolic [blood pressure]___Fever [Pyrexia]___Profuse sweating___Edema [Retention of fluids] [Swelling]___Postural Hypotension [Low Blood Pressure]___Hypertrichosis [excessive body hair growth]___Hyperpigmentation [skin coloring]


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  • [Cerebral manifestations]___Behavorial change___Anxiety___Irritability___Delirium___Depression___Confusion___Hallucination___Insomnia___ANS [altered neurological state]___Restlessness___Sensory loss___Seizure___Depressed or absent tendon reflexes___Cranial nerve involvement



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How does this explain vampires?

  • Solar spectrum and its relation to the absorption spectrum of chlorophyll

  • Very little of the Sun’s energy gets to the ground (red line).

    • gets absorbed by water vapor in the atmosphere

  • The absorbance spectra of chlorophyll (green line).

    • Absorbs strongly in the blue and red portion of the spectrum

    • Green light is reflected and gives plants their color.


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How does this explain vampires?

  • Two types in plants:

  • Chlorophyll- a

  • Chlorophyll –b

  • Structure almost identical,

    • Differ in the composition of a sidechain

    • In a it is -CH3, in b it is CHO

  • The different sidegroups 'tune' the absorption spectrum to slightly different wavelengths

    • light that is not significantly absorbed by chlorophyll a, will instead be captured by chlorophyll b


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How does this explain vampires?

  • Chlorophyll has a complex ring structure

    • The basic structure is a porphyrin ring, co-coordinated to a central atom.

    • This is very similar to the heme group of hemoglobin

  • Ring contains loosely bound electrons

    • It is the part of the molecule involved in electron transitions and redox reactions of photosynthesis


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How does this explain vampires?

  • When chlorophyll absorbs a light particle (Proton)

    • Enters a higher excitation state

    • Becomes unstable, gives up energy as heat

    • Enters lower excited state

      • can be stable for a few nanoseconds

  • This energy causes chemical reactions to occur

  • These reactions are the fastest known to science!!!!


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Vampires

  • Porphyria cannot be cured but some of the conditions can be alleviated.

  • A current clinic treatment is the injection of heme. In the middle ages an injection of the red pigment would not have been be possible.


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Vampires

  • It's been theorized that blood drinking photosensitive "vampires" may have been unfortunate ordinary people trying to alleviate some of the symptoms of their disease.



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King George III

  • Historians have speculated that King George III suffered from porphyria.

  • Since George III ruled during the American Revolution, he was thought to have had a significant impact on Britian's loss to the revolutionaries.


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Vlad the Impaler

  • Romania, south of Carpathian Mountains

  • Drac--order of Dragon

  • Vlad Dracula impaled his enemies.

  • Vlad Dracula used implement to torture prisoners (mostly captive Turks) as punishment.

  • Vlad was assassinated in 1477.


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Werewolves

  • Congenital Hypertrichosis is a condition that causes excessive hair growth.

  • Mutation is mapped to the X chromosome.

  • First noted medically in 1648.

  • The family of Petrus Gonsalvus - lived near Innsbruck Austria and were named after a nearby castle “Family of Ambrus”--their portraits are still hanging!


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Congenital Hypertrichosis

Modern day medical researchers (1993) have described patients with a condition or form of CH where the mutation has been tracked to the long arm of the X chromosome. This condition was described as “Ambras Syndrome”.


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Congenital Hypertrichosis

These photographs were actually postcards, and are the earliest photo-documents of a CH patient.


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Congenital Hypertrichosis

The people who have this condition have hair placement more typical of mammals in general, and less typical of the human hair placement.

The gene was discovered in 1995, and is the first example of a gene that may be involved in the regulation of human hair growth to certain regions of the body.



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Zombies

  • A zombie is an undead person in the Afro-Caribbean and Creole spiritual belief system of Voodoo. These folkloric zombies are humans who have had their soul stolen by supernatural means and shamanic medicine, and are forced to work for their "zombie master" as uncomplaining slaves on isolated plantations.


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Zombies

  • Another explanation suggests that the zombie master may have used combinations of toxic drugs to send their victims into a deep coma. This is known as Zombie powder.

  • This is known to contain Tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is a potent marine neurotoxin, named after the order of fish from which it is most commonly associated, the tetraodon pufferfish.


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Zombies

  • TTX is an especially potent neurotoxin, specifically blocking voltage-gated sodium channels on the surface of nerve membranes.

  • The victim, although completely paralyzed, may be conscious and in some cases completely lucid until shortly before death. Death usually occurs within 4 to 6 hours, with a known range of about 20 minutes to 8 hours


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Zombies

  • Or, could be due to catatonic schizophrenia - which may exhibit symptoms that could be wrongly interpreted by the superstitious as zombies.

  • stupor - marked decrease in reactivity to the environment and in spontaneous movements and activity

  • excitement -apparently purposeless motor activity, not influenced by external stimuli

  • posturing- voluntary assumption and maintenance of inappropriate or bizarre postures

  • negativism - an apparently motiveless resistance to all instructions or attempts to be moved

  • rigidity - maintenance of a rigid posture against efforts to be moved

  • command automatism - automatic compliance with instructions


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Witches

  • Practitioners of the religion of Witchcraft or Wiccatrace their beliefs to pre-Christian times.

  • Theirs is a nature-based religion which pays homage to a Father God and Mother Goddess.

  • They recognize no personification of evil and disassociate themselves entirely from the 17th-century definition of witchcraft.


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Witches

  • Clearly, it is important to understand that the word "witch" is complex and powerful.

  • Witchcraft means “The Craft of the Wise” because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature and had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines.

  • Used as an accusation of Satanic pact in the 17th century, it could result in death.


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The Witchcraft Trials in Salem

  • Sometime during February of the exceptionally cold winter of 1692, young Betty Parris became strangely ill. She dashed about, dove under furniture, contorted in pain, and complained of fever.

  • The cause of her symptoms may have been some combination of stress, asthma, guilt, child abuse, epilepsy, and delusional psychosis, but there were other theories…

  • In 1692 in Salem, with an Indian war raging less than seventy miles away (and many refugees from the war in the area) that the devil was close at hand.  Sudden and violent death occupied minds


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The Witchcraft Trials in Salem

  • Talk of witchcraft increased when playmates Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, and Mary Walcott, began to exhibit similar unusual behavior.

  • When his own treatments failed to effect a cure, William Griggs, a doctor called to examine the girls, suggested that the girls' problems might have a supernatural origin.

  • The widespread belief that witches targeted children made the doctor's diagnosis seem increasing likely.


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The Witchcraft Trials in Salem

  • From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging.

  • Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges.

The hanging of Ann Putnam –age 11


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The Witchcraft Trials in Salem

  • The hallucinations of the afflicted girls could possibly have been the result of ingesting rye bread that had been made with moldy grain. Ergot of Rye is a plant disease that is caused by a fungus.

  • It is the ergot stage of the fungus that contains a similar chemical compounds to LSD.

  • Convulsive ergotism causes nervous dysfunction, which could be similar to many of the physical symptoms of those alleged to be afflicted by witchcraft.


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Witches

  • Used as a religious title, it indicates a follower of an ancient pagan belief system.

  • Wicca is a religion originating in Irelandbased, in part, on ancient northern European Pagan beliefs in a fertility Goddess and her consort, a horned God. Although the religion is a modern creation (England -1940), some of its sources pre-date the Christian era by many centuries.

  • Each meaning of the word is distinct from the others and needs to be used in it’s proper context.


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