Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"The Cure"

Douglas E. Richards is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Wired and its sequel, Amped. Richards has a master's degree in molecular biology (a.k.a.“genetic engineering”), and was a biotechnology executive for many years.

Richards applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Cure, and reported the following:
I opened the hardcover edition of The Cure and turned to page 69, certain this page would cover something relatively unimportant to the plot. Boy was I wrong! Imagine my surprise and delight to find this page is one of the most important in the entire book. What are the odds?

To understand why, here is the first paragraph of the book’s description, from the Jacket:
Psychopaths cause untold misery.

If you found the cure for this condition,

just how far would you go to use it?

Erin Palmer had a devastating encounter with a psychopath as a child. Now a grad student and scientist, she's devoting her life to studying these monsters. When her research catches the attention of Hugh Raborn, a brilliant neuroscientist who claims to have isolated the genes responsible for psychopathic behavior, Erin realizes it may be possible to reverse the condition, restoring souls to psychopaths. But to do so, she'll not only have to operate outside the law, but violate her most cherished ethical principles.
Page 69, to my dismay, is when Erin first speaks with Hugh Raborn. When he first tries to enlist her aid. And when she first becomes aware of the possibility of a cure for psychopathy, and some of the ethical and legal dilemmas this would bring about:
Raborn laughed. “I see you haven’t had many dealings with the FDA. They’d make a steel pipe look flexible. Trust me, they’d never let me begin a trial.”

Erin’s eyes narrowed. “I see. Why do I have a sick feeling that I know why you called me?”

“I need your help, Erin. I could sense your passion in the article I read. Your drive to give society a tool to deal with these monsters. It came through, loud and clear. And you’re one of only a handful of researchers going into prisons and studying psychopaths, and taking MRI’s of their brains on a daily basis.”

“You want me to test your therapy on my inmates, don’t you?”

There was another long silence on the line.

“You’re out of your mind,” said Erin.

“It’s the only way. It has to be done empirically.”

“Sure. And I go to jail.”

“No one will ever know. I’ll give you the therapeutic cocktail, and separately, the eight genes whose precise modulation is critical, at a wide variety of expression levels. You just have to add them to the mix in every possible combination until you find the one that works. It won’t be easy, since we can be all but certain the delicate balance of these genes that does the trick in mice won’t be the same balance needed in man. It took me hundreds of experiments, and it might take you the same. But when you’ve found the right combination, you’ll see a complete reversal of the condition. The brains of your psychopathic subjects will read as normals. Their amygdalas will light up when given emotionally charged words. And as I mentioned, these abnormal genes would not only be replaced, but expressed correctly. So their brain structures will revert to normal—they will be normal—at the level of their DNA. Right down to their sperm and ova. And your MRI data will be there to document the entire thing.”

“That’s how it’s supposed to work. But if there is one perfect combination of gene expression levels, I’m guessing there’s at least one imperfect combination. A combination that is lethal. How many mice did you kill along the way?”

“Surprisingly few,” said Raborn...
Learn more about the book and author at Douglas E. Richards’s website.

My Book, The Movie: The Cure.

Writers Read: Douglas E. Richards.

--Marshal Zeringue