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July 29, 1944


JAMA. 1944;125(13):912-913. doi:10.1001/jama.1944.02850310032011

The manner in which the cell doctrine of Schleiden and Schwann was adapted to an interpretation of disease is interesting.1 The idea that elementary cells, globules, vesicles or fibers may be united to form tissues was suggested in antiquity. The value of Schwann's theory depended on the morphologic and functional importance attributed to the nucleus. Unfortunately, coupled with it was the erroneous belief that cells originated within a formless blastema by a process of "crystallization"—actually a spontaneous generation.

The cell concept was introduced into the study of disease during the two decades beginning with the publication of Schwann's researches in 1838 and closing with Virchow's "Die Cellularpathologie," printed in 1858. At that time such histologic methods as are now employed were undeveloped. Tissues were placed in salt or sugar solutions, teased apart and examined in the fresh state. The only reagent in common use was acetic acid, which increased

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