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Subject: Blood: Excerpts from Heller

Blood: Excerpts from Heller

From: Walter Henry <whenry>
Date: Saturday, December 29, 1990
 "We Can," I elaborated, "manipulate the porphyrin molecule and make it
 fluoresce."  (Porphyrins are among the key molecules in nature.  they
 are organic molecules of basically similar structure, usually with one
 metal atom in the center.  In blood, the porphyrin has an iron atom; in
 chlorophyl, it has a magnesium atom.  If we treat the porphyrin in
 hemoglobin in a certain chemical manner, we can excise the iron atom
 from the structure, which can then be made to fluoresce.  Fluorescence
 is a physical process whereby a specific wavelength of light excites the
 molecule, which then gives off light at another specific wavelength.
 This light can be enormously amplified and measured.  (p. 14)

 I told Rogers that the hemoglobin molecule of blood has as its crucial
 constituent heme porphyrin, with an iron atom at its center.  If we
 extract the iron, the remaining molecule can be induced to fluoresce a
 ruby-red by long ultraviolet light.  Using this technique, we could
 readily measure 100 nanograms ... of blood.  (p. 88)

 He looked.  "If that isn't blood, I'll eat this microscope."  (p.158)

     Then Jackson asked, "Al, can you show us that fluorescent test for
     Since porphyrins are Adler's favorite subject, he was delighted to
 oblige.  He took a tiny sample of the blood from the Spanish linen,
 added hydrazine, and then formic acid.  Dense fumes began to rise.  It
 is a little frightening to the nonchemist the first time he sees it,
 because he is not expecting it.  Adler loves to produce such effects on
 people.  He called for an ultraviolet lamp, put in on, and asked that
 the lights be turned out.  Again there were "Oh"s and "Ah"s from the
     After the lights were turned on, Adler asked me for a Shroud fibril
 covered with what we both believed to be blood.  I picked one that had a
 huge amount of red coating compared to the 700-picogram amount we had
 before.  He put on the reagents.  Out went the lights.  On went the
 ultraviolet.  The red fluorescence could be seen with the naked eye.
 (p. 160)

 .... Now that we had a definitive test for blood in the blood areas, the
 determination as to whether all the red dots were blood or iron-oxide
 particles would be relatively easy....  Adler explained, "I'm about to
 add hydrazine.  If the red particle goes into solution, it's got to be
 blood protein.  It can't be iron oxide."
     Jumper asked why iron oxide would not dissolve in hydrazine.
     I asked him, "If you placed a horseshoe in a bowl of water, would it
 dissolve in a five minutes?"  (p. 165)

 One physical test that provided a means of discriminating between
 iron-oxide particles and blood particles was a test for birefringence.
 Because of the crystalline nature of iron oxide, transmitted light is
 split, and the appropriate optics can show this.  Blood is not
 crystalline and does not manifest this property.  The only way that
 someone could have been misled into thinking that the blood particles on
 the Shroud were birefringent is if he had examined them for this
 property while they were still on the Mylar tape.  Mylar is optically
 active, and _any_ red particle looks birefringent when the light has to
 pass through the tape and the particle.  The particles had to be removed
 from the tape if one was to determine which were blood and which were
 not.  This rather simple observation would turn out to be an extremely
 critical one in ascertaining whether or not McCrone's claims were
 correct.  (p. 177)

 Those [photographs] taken by ultraviolet were most illuminating.  At the
 margin of each scourge mark there was a pale white fluorescence that
 could not be seen in white light.  It is typical of a lesion made by a
 whip that there will be an ooze of serum at the edges of the wound. ...
 There was a similar white fluorescence around the margin of the heavy
 blood flows.  This, too, is physiologic.  As part of the blood clotting
 mechanism, the clot retracts after a while, squeezing out the serum.
 The fibrils from these white fluorescent areas showed a positive test
 for protein by fluorescamine and by enzymatic test.  We followed this up
 by using still another determination, Bromcreosol green, which gave us a
 positive test for albumin, the main proteinaceous component of blood.
 Thus we could conclude that what was on the Shroud was whole blood.
 Microscopic amounts of blood were present as flakes, dots, blobs, and one
 other form that was interesting.  Where the blood had coated fibrils and
 hardened, it had in many cases cracked off.  These elongated,
 half-tubular replica casts of fibrils we called shards, since they
 looked like half-round roof tiles.  We took specimens of the various
 types of blood shapes and did still another series of tests for blood,
 using potassium cyanide in ammonium hydroxide.  This produced a positive
 result, giving the typical color of cyanomethemoglogin.  We ran a
 specific assay, which gave us a characteristic blue-azobilirubin color.
 When acid was added, this became a paler purple and was discharged with
 UV light, giving still one more positive test for blood.
     Thus far, our positive blood tests had included (1)
 microspectrophotomet scans of crystals and fibrils, (2) reflectance
 scans on the Shroud, (3) positive hemochromogen tests, (4) positive
 cyanomethemeoglobin tests, (positive tests for bile pigments, and (6)
 characteristic heme porphyrin fluorescence.  Any one of these is proof
 of the presence of blood, and each is acceptable in a court of law.
 Taken together they are irrefutable.  (pp. 185-6)

     To determine the species of animal from which a sample of protein is
 derived, we have to fall back on immunology.  The basis of the test
 depends on the formation of antibodies.  Antibodies are proteins that an
 individual's immune mechanism forms to neutralize any foreign material.
 This can include bacteria, viruses, or protein from another species.  If
 we inject a small amount of human-serum albumin into a laboratory
 animal, it will make antihuman-albumin antibodies.  Antibodies work in a
 manner akin to a key fitted to a complex lock.  Every protein, including
 human-serum albumin, has a unique three-dimensional shape and is soluble
 in blood.  Antibodies to the protein fit onto its shape with exquisite
 precision, like plaster of Paris poured over a statue.  The resultant
 sculpture-cum-plaster is a totally different shape, and it is alien to
 the host body and insoluble.  If we take the laboratory animal into
 which we injected human-serum albumin, draw some blood, get rid of the
 blood cells, and add its serum to human serum, we will have a reaction.
 The human-albumin molecules will combine with the antibody and
     We decided to use one of the remaining serum-coated fibrils for the
 test.  some antihuman-albumin antibody was procured and a fluorescent
 tag attached to it.  Bovine, porcine, and equine albumin were used as
 controls, and, as expected, were nonreactive.  When the antibody to
 human protein was added to the fibril, it was strongly positive.
     "O.K.," I said, "now we know it's human."
     "Not necessarily," said adler.  "Some primate blood can cross-react
     and . . ."
     "Stop it," I interrupted.  "The painter would have had to cross to
 Africa, capture a chimp or a gorilla, return to Europe with it,
 and . .."
     "How about the Gibraltar apes?"
     I looked around for something to throw at him.  (pp. 187-88)

                  Conservation DistList Instance 4:36
                Distributed: Saturday, December 29, 1990
                        Message Id: cdl-4-36-002
Received on Saturday, 29 December, 1990

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