The Nature of Living Cells

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The research a preliminary report of which is here presented was undertaken with the purpose of discovering some physical principle that might account for the conversion of normal cells into cancer cells, that is, into cells the energy of which is used only for growth, whereas the energy of the tissue in which the conversion takes place is used primarily for function. It is clear that the cancer cell must owe its formation to the operation of existing laws of growth in the host. These laws are most strikingly illustrated in the process of fertilization.

The ovum and the sperm, as Keller has shown, exhibit opposite signs of charge, hence they attract each other. The preponderantly positive element exists apart from the preponderantly negative element, but when they unite growth and division take place, forming the beginning of a new organism. The fertilized ovum contains, therefore, elements bearing opposite signs of charge and electrolytes in optimum proportions, and transmits these characteristics to each cell of the developing organism.

Every living cell contains proteins, lipoids and electrolytes. Colloidal systems of proteins and of lipoids bear different degrees of electrical charge. We postulated, therefore, that if we were to mix proteins and lipoids with the electrolytes present in living tissues, the same laws would act that govern the process of fertilization; that is, that the comparatively positive element would combine with the comparatively negative element, this combination with the electrolytes carrying an electric charge and forming an organized unit which would present. . .