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June 1969

Test Tube Malignant Transformation

Arch Otolaryngol. 1969;89(6):805. doi:10.1001/archotol.1969.00770020807001

ONE MORE step has been taken toward establishing a viral etiology of cancer. Forty years ago at Harvard Medical School your Chief Editor was taught that the existence of a filterable virus that could produce sarcoma, as claimed by Rous was extremely doubtful (personal communication, 1928). Now, from this same institution, Dr. Paul H. Black1 reports in the Nov 4, 1968 JAMA malignant transformation of mouse kidney cells in vitro by inoculation with certain viruses.

As the late great Charles D. Pomerat often said (personal communication, 1954) and as Black emphasizes, cells grown in the test tube offer an ideal opportunity to control variables impossible to attain in the living organism. It is well-known that normal epithelial cell explants treated with trypsin to disperse the cells and planted on a plastic or glass plate will grow to confluence producing a flat single-layer cell growth, and then will stop dividing.

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