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Chapter 6

Plague Doctor
     Chapter 6: Ascite Tumour-Bearing Mice

    Larbre Studio  Larbre Studio

    Cai Zixuan glanced around his surroundings. After confirming that there was no one around, he lowered his voice and said, "The leader of our team is Wang Ruoxiang."

    "Is that so?" Gu Jun frowned helplessly, thinking ‘Is that all?'"It's not surprising at all, is it? I'd be surprised if it was not her."

    "Yeah. It's Wang Ruoxiang, after all." Cai Zixuan passionately nodded after hearing Gu Jun's words.

    Wang Ruoxiang was their class monitor, who had outstanding academic ability, a beautiful appearance, and a great personality. For a school goddess like her, the number of people lining up to court her could stretch from the teaching building to the bureau centre. Tycoon Jun was naturally one of them as well. He had pursued her passionately, but his courtship eventually ended with Wang Ruoxiang's harsh words: "Sorry. We are two different kinds of human beings, and I will never fall in love with your kind of human being."

    7

    Huh, a tall, handsome, rich and driven eight-year graduate student actually turned out to be just "that kind of human being"?

    2

    During that time, everyone all wanted to thank Tycoon Jun and the class monitor for making them believe in love again.

    1

    "The class monitor is still single right now apparently." Cai Zixuan did not realize how nosy he looked right now.

    

    "Stop looking at me like this." Gu Jun laughed bitterly. "It's all in the past now." Indeed, it's all in the past. When Tycoon Jun tried to woo the class monitor back then, how much of it was due to genuine affection and how much of it was just to acquire the goddess that everyone so admired. Such things no longer mattered.

    1

    "Is that so?" Cai Zixuan stopped talking about the class monitor and glanced at his watch. "Ah, it's almost 8 o'clock. I've got to go to the laboratory for the experiments."

    "Let's go. I'm headed to the laboratory block as well," Gu Jun replied.

    Cai Zixuan suddenly revealed a surprised look. And he still said that he no longer wanted to pursue the class monitor? Wow, changing his mind in the blink of an eye... Ahh, it's good to be young.

    "What?" Gu Jun was helpless. He wanted to explain, but did not know where to start. "Forget it..."

    "Tycoon Jun, you don't have to explain anything. I totally understand. There are no rivers to one who has crossed the ocean.1 I understand completely."

    1

    "What do you understand with your amoeba brain?!"

    The Medical Experimental Building was located in the northwest area of the campus. It was a dozen-story brick building with white walls and no distinctive features. However, the building had a fully equipped laboratory for teachers and students for scientific research.

    "Over here," after entering the building, Cai Zixuan took the lead and introduced the building to Gu Jun while they were walking.

    The subject of the experiment conducted by their group was called "Study on Different Kinds of Photodynamic Therapies for Tumours". It was a study on subcutaneously implanting tumours in mice, then using different photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy and observing tumour changes.

    4

    The funds allocated this time was 30,000 yuan, which seemed excessive for an undergraduate scientific research experiment. However, a pure imported Photofrin photosensitizer can cost up to tens of thousands yuan. To be able to do several kinds of photosensitization experiments, Wang Ruoxiang carefully calculated and saved money to set up a domestically produced imitation Photofrin group, dotiporfin group, ALA group, and a blank control group. A total of 5 groups.

    "The research plan and the opening report were all drawn up by the class monitor." Cai Zixuan couldn't help but sigh. "I really have to take my hat off for Wang Ruoxiang."

    Although Professor Gu was a mentor, he would only occasionally guide them. For an old, established researcher like him, his actual business was to target high-scoring SCI articles. Therefore, the Pioneer Cup still depends on the students themselves. The class monitors had to shoulder the most responsibilities, but everyone still fought over the opportunity to be one.

    That was because if a thesis paper was published about the experiment, Wang Ruoxiang would be the primary author, while Cai Zixuan and the other team members would only rank behind.

    1

    "We are still in the preliminary stages, which is to establish a model of ascites tumour-bearing mice. The mice had been in cultivation for a week, and we'll be seeing the results today."

    Cai Zixuan said everything in a single breath before realising that Gu Ju had been silent the entire time. Furthermore, he seemed to frown when he heard the word tumour.

    "Uh, Tycoon Jun? You know that the success rate of modelling is not 100%, right?"

    Cai Zixuan scratched the bald front part of his head. He really didn't know if Gu Jun understood whatever he said just now.

    "What could possibly be 100% confirmed in this world?" Gu Jun lowered his face and facepalmed. Friend, I haven't reached that level of stupidity yet.

    "Indeed." Cai Zixuan was touched by this sentence and displayed an expression as though having seen through the vicissitudes of life. "Life follows a causal relationship and is as transient as a dream."

    Well, Gu Jun lost Cai Zixuan at this point.

    As they were speaking, the two took the elevator to the eighth floor. The laboratory used by their group was on this floor.

    Following the corridor, they arrived right outside the laboratory door. Cai Zixuan pushed the door open and walked in first. He saw that the team members had arrived before him, and he was the last one to arrive.

    "Zixuan, we've been waiting for you."

    "Hmm?"

    At this time, everyone noticed a stranger who entered after Cai Zixuan. The atmosphere in the laboratory grew colder. Only the sound of squeaking mice could be heard.

    1

    Tycoon Jun?!

    Didn't someone say that he dropped out of school to travel around the world? Didn't someone say that he was already dead? Didn't someone say that he...

    "Hello, everyone," Gu Jun waved and greeted everyone with a smile, before looking at Wang Ruoxiang. "Hi, class monitor."

    Wang Ruoxiang was standing by an experiment table. She had dark black short hair and an exquisite face which seemed rather pale, but still gorgeous anyway. She was currently wearing a long white coat, looking like a dashing heroine. Wang Ruoxiang slightly frowned when she saw him. "Hello, Gu Jun." Even her voice was melodious.

    Gu Jun nodded in response. After three months of separation, the class monitor was still so beautiful. However, he was no longer the same person.

    3

    "Tycoon Jun took a break from school before, and he's back now," Cai Zixuan explained and started introducing everyone to Gu Jun. The clinical student Xu Hai was an acquaintance, and Zhang Haoran was from Medicine course. He Yuhan belonged to Pharmacy. The members of the group of five were all present.

    Cai Zixuan asked, "Class monitor, Tycoon Jun wants to observe the results with us. That shouldn't be a problem, right?"

    Wang Ruoxiang silently bit her lip and deliberated before saying, "Stay on the side and don't do anything."

    Tycoon Jun. She murmured the name inwardly. She remembered that when school started a few years ago, she still had a favourable impression of him. Urgh, she felt like vomiting when she looked back. This kind of person is a lazy sloth, addicted to all vices, and a piece of deadwood which cannot be recycled. Not even mud can patch up the broken wall that is him. He can't even be compared to the mice in this experiment! Perhaps, his only contribution to the advancement of medical studies is if someone uses him as a human test subject for experimentation.

    14

    "I won't." Gu Jun obediently stood aside, but he vaguely sensed that Wang Ruoxiang seemed to be rather malicious. It must be my imagination.

    A row of mouse breeding cages has been placed on the experimental bench. Each cage contained a group of white Kunming mice. This was the most commonly used experimental animal. It was very docile and small. It weighed only 18-22g at the age of 1-1.5 months and was less than 10cm in length. It was suitable for experimentation.

    Except for one cage, the rest were filled with naked rats. Wang Ruoxiang just bought them from the school's experimental animal centre. Once the modelling was successful, they would come in handy.

    As soon as the team members were gathered, everyone immediately started to get down to business.

    PIPA! Wang Ruoxiang put on rubber gloves and started to catch some mice in the model mouse cage. These mice were dyed a different colour to number them. She caught the mouse labelled ‘No 1'. Cai Zixuan and the others were in charge of assisting, recording, video shooting, etc.

    3

    "The eighth day of intraperitoneal implantation of fibrosarcoma in S180 mice." Wang Ruoxiang studied the mouse with concentration and earnestness, and lightly pressed its abdomen that was obviously swollen. The mouse released a painful howl and struggled violently. It was futile as her hands firmly held on to the mouse.

    3

    She continued, "No 1 mouse's ascites continued to expand, resembling a frog's belly. It is still brimming with vitality, so there is no need to euthanize it."

    Listening to what she said, the other team members instantly grew more excited and started clamouring loudly. They crowded around the mouse to take a closer look. "So this is the so-called ‘frog belly? Awesome!"

    "It indeed is the frog bell. It's HUGE," Cai Zixuan exclaimed emotionally.

    Although they were all eight-years students and already in their final years, it was their first time to do this kind of realistic scientific experiment.

    2

    "Oh." Gu Jun also joined in and took a look. He could still comprehend what they were doing.

    The reason for producing ascites tumour-bearing mice first was to obtain a large number of highly active S180 tumour cells. It should be made clear that the original cell line was extremely costly, yet one tube was only sufficient to inject one mouse. Moreover, the subject was very fragile, yet the four treatment groups they planned to research required the cultivation of hundreds of mice.

    Hence, the first step was creation before expansion. Now that the mouse had grown out the ‘frog's belly', it was possible to "collect" ascites tumour cells.

    "Gu Jun." Wang Ruoxiang turned his head and glanced at him suddenly. "Can you move away? You're obstructing the experiment."

    2

    "Alright." Gu Jun shrugged and walked away. Wow, you sure are capable. I'm over a metre away from you, but you can still call me an ‘obstruction'.

    8

    Cai Zixuan and the rest pretended that was happening, while Wang Ruoxiang proceeded to the next stage of the experiment.

    She pierced the abdominal cavity of No 1 mouse with a 5ml syringe and successfully extracted a full tube of clear yellow ascites. She then injected it into an Eppendorf conical centrifuge tube. She then brought the test tube to the centrifuge to begin centrifugal separation. After centrifugation, one could immediately see a large amount of white sediments at the bottom of the centrifuged tube, which was precisely the ascites tumour cells.

    "Modelling of No 1 mouse was successful." Wang Ruoxiang breathed a relieved sigh and revealed an overjoyed expression. She was smiling happily at the team members. "Ascites has a large number of S180 tumour cells!"

    "Yeah! Haha!" They were all young people, and no one paid any heed to the feelings of the mice. They crowed and cheered in jubilation. Cai Zixuan commented, "We finally took the first step to success!"

    The first step was successful, so next was to use these cells to make subcutaneous tumours for the mice in the treatment group. Then, photodynamic therapy was to be performed after the tumour had formed.

    4

    There were still many things to be done. They continue to work tirelessly, removing the supernatant from the centrifuge tube, resuspending the cell count, and adjusting the cell concentration.

    In order to maintain cell activity, all injections must be completed within one hour. So they were busy with one model mouse after the other.

    "Adjust the cell concentration to 1×10^7/ml ..."

    "Yuhan, you are responsible for ensuring there are 0.2 ml cells per needle."

    "Leader, the anaesthesia is ready!"

    1

    Every one of them was filled with fighting spirit, and no one seemed to care about Tycoon Jun. They even forgot that he was observing from the sidelines.

    Gu Jun watched the entire proceedings quietly. He watched as He Yuhan busied himself with the cell suspension. Cai Zixuan was anaesthetising healthy mice with sodium pentobarbital intraperitoneal injection, while Xu Hai and Zhang Haoran labelled the mice and depilated their hips. Finally, the test subjects were handed over to Wang Ruoxiang, who injected the mice subcutaneously with tumour cells on their right hips.

    No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, the experiment proceeded with one mouse after another.

    Suddenly, a splitting headache assaulted Gu Jun. Was it the brainstem tumour acting up?

    The pain intensified sharply, and he could not help but to cry, "Ah!" His sight in front became blurry, flickering unstably like the shadow of a nightmare.

    He seemed to have shortness of breath and uncontrollable wheezing. The scenery around him seemed to have morphed into a run-down laboratory. The centrifuges, microscopes, sterilisers, and other instruments fell to the ground. Broken test tubes, messy documents, fuzzy images of the cabinets, the rancid corpses of animals. The ashes painted everything a dull grey colour, and there was no breath of life. Only chaos and dead silence remained.

    The pain inside his head was getting worse, yet the scenery became more and more clear. He could clearly distinguish some inexplicable instruments.

    And the twisted corpses on the ground. He was unable to identify what kind of animal they were.

    He then saw a line of words written in blood splashed across the wall and the mysterious language on the box of pills. Compared to the standard font of the printed letters, the strokes written in blood were eerie and left a bone-chilling shiver running down the spine.

    All of a sudden, Gu Jun felt like he was able to understand the meaning of those words.

    He softly started to mutter to himself.

    One who has seen the world doesn't stop at small things