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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Sir: Is it possible that Adam was the last man to have an original thought? Claude Bernard (1813-1878) was not the first biologist to point out that the most careful laboratory measurements fail to define the behavior of intact human systems [I]. Several eighteenth-century physiologists protested inadequacies of both the "static" philosophy of Stephen Hales and the mechanistic school of Newton's disciples. Their pronouncements and rationale are detailed in a long and elegant paper by Theodore Brown [2]. Dr. Altschule's discussion ofthe inappropriate application of Starling's Law in clinical medicine is also reminiscent of the caution expressed by William Heberden , M.D., an eighteenth-century protocardiologist. In the preface to his posthumously published, widely acclaimed Commentaries on the History and Cure of Disease, Heberden reminded his readers diat it is the "spiritus animales," that is, "the principle of life . . . that unknown energy, which makes die difference between an animated body, and an inanimate mess of matter." In the balanced, reasonable fashion which particularly marked his later writings , Heberden, perhaps made Olympian by a life which spanned (1710-1801) the eighteenth century and its multiple intellectualisms, cautioned physicians from excessive allegiance to either mechanism or vitalism. references 1.Altschule, M. D. Invalidity of using so-called Starling curves in clinical medicine. Perspect. Biol. Med. 26:171-187, 1983. 2.Brown, T. M. From mechanism to vitalism in the eighteenth-century English physiology ./ Hist. Biol. 7:179-216, 1974. Bernadine Z. Paulshock Wilmington Medical Center 1401 Washington Street, Box 785 Wilmington, Delaware 19899 Dear Sir: It is a pleasure to read Dr. Paulshock's perceptive comments. I emphasized the ideas of Claude Bernard, rather than the similar ones of Permission to reprint a letter to the editor printed in this section may be obtained only from die authors. 320 Letters to the Editor earlier writers, because he wrote at the time when the noisy self-congratulating Berlin "1848 Group" was insisting that all biology (and medicine) was nothing but physics and chemistry. Claude Bernard's writings indicated, as others before him had not, that a way to turn a biological organism into a physicochemical system was to isolate it from its normal environment, which creates an absurdity. Mark D. Altschule Francis A. Countway Library ofMediane Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts 02115 Dear Sir: We enjoyed the Klaus Grossgebauer article relative to "The Procaryotic Hypothesis" in which there is postulated a reversion to indefinite replication of procaryote "viral" nucleic acid somehow contained within the eucaryote [I]. One wonders, however, why the need to call forth some unknown viral component , when we already have symbiotic procaryotes within the eucaryote, namely, the mitochondria. These have their own and somewhat independent genetic system which is not in phase with that ofthe nucleus. Perhaps one should first examine for a "mitochondrial hypothesis of oncogenesis" based on this symbiosis gone awry. Such a possibility would explain the change in glucose metabolism long noted in cancer cells, as well as a number of other features. Such a symbiosis was considered by Wallin [2] many years ago and by Lederberg [3], and more recently has been discussed thoroughly by Margulis [4] and Tzagoloff [5]. references 1.Grossgebauer, K. Cancer: reexpression of procaryotic replication units—the "procaryote hypothesis" of oncogenesis. Perspect. Biol. Med. 26:354-361, 1983. 2.Wallin, j. E. The Cell in Development and Heredity. Edited byJ. B. Wilson. New York: Macmillan, 1925. 3.Lederberg, J. Cell genetics and hereditary symbiosis. Physiol. Rev. 32:403-430, 1952. 4.Margulis, L. Symbiosis in Cell Evolution. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1981. 5.Tzagoloff, A. Mitochondria. New York: Plenum, 1982. Carl J. Marienfeld Environmental Healtli Survdllance Program University ofMüsouri Columbia, Missouri 65201 Dear Sir: I agree with Dr. Marienfeld that at first sight it is quite natural to consider mitochondria as best candidates for intracellular "procaryotic" material. However , our assumption that moveable genetic elements related to cancer are "procaryotic " replicons is not confined to these structures. Thus, for example, we Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 27, 2 ¦ Winter 1984 | 321 assume that AIu family members and its equivalent families of interspersed repetitive DNA sequences could be the suggested substrate. In...


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