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Studies In Growth

A. Szent-Györgyi
Published 1965 · Medicine

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Cancer is a ghastly disease which causes endless human suffering. This places the biologist who happens to drift into cancer research in a peculiar position. Ifhe sees a ray ofhope ofa cure or a better understanding, it is his moral obligation to pursue his work till its final success or failure. He may feel compelled to publish prematurely, hoping to find support and open his line for others. This he is especially likely to do ifhe knows cancer, not only from statistics, but if this specter has knocked at his own door. You will have noticed that what I am doing is to start my talk with an apology, apologizing, also, in the name ofmy associates, A. Hegyeli and J. A. McLaughlin, for the premature nature and many shortcomings of our communication, hoping to elicit from you a lenient judgment. I will put before you the whole story ofmy research. There is one point which I want you to note, especially. This story has many sharp turns, and if I still pursue my cancer research hopefully, I owe it to the great freedom with which the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation allowed me to use my grants. My story starts with muscle, which, for many years, was my preoccupation. The thymus gland, somehow, seemed to be involved in the function of muscle, since, in one of its most common diseases, myasthenia, the thymus seems to be overbearing. My fate became sealed when a friend donated to me a herd ofmyotonic goats. Myotonia, similarly to myasthenia, is a "degenerative disease," the word "degenerative" meaning simply that we do not understand it, what it is and why it is. Myotonia is the only degenerative disease ofman which has its exact pair in animals, afflicting * Institute for Muscle Research at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This lecture was given at the 2jth Anniversary Celebration ofThe Squibb Institute for Medical Research, New Brunswick, NewJersey, October loth, 1963. The underlying research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Grant No. GM-10383, and the National Science Foundation, Grant No. G-5835.



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