Substances Used in the Treatment of Cancer
Because of the fact that the surgical treatment of cancer has not been overly successful even when combined with radiation therapy, workers in various parts of the civilized world have been eagerly searching for some chemical remedy for this dread disease. Great screening programs have been established, and thousands of compounds have been prepared and tested at industrial establishments, at universities, and at giant research institutes. For the most part, the search for suitable compounds has not been conducted on any very rational basis, and the leads for experimentation have mostly come as a result of lucky accidents. One of the leading workers in the field, Haddow, in writing about substances which cause cancer and those which tend to cure it, wrote in 1951: “But in no case—a striking fact—do we know the place in the cell at which they act—whether the cell surface, the cytoplasm, the nucleus itself—or the nature of the receptors with which they combine.” Whatever efforts have been made toward an interpretation of the action of chemotherapeutic agents for cancer have mostly been centered around the idea that these agents cause some disturbance of metabolism. But some of the most powerful chemotherapeutic agents do not affect the growth of the cell. Thus in the presence of nitrogen mustard, or its oxygen derivative, Nitromin, cells increase in size but do not divide (Bodenstein 1947; Friedenwald, Buschke and Scholz 1948; Sato, Belkin, and Essner 1956).
KeywordsSerratia Marcescens Nitrogen Mustard Carcinogenic Agent Dread Disease Civilized World
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