Issue Date: February 11, 2008
To Say Nothing of the Mouse
The notion that cancer cells are squishier than normal cells is not new (C&EN, Dec. 10, 2007, page 11).
When I joined the National Cancer Institute in the late 1960s, the late Dean Burk (of Lineweaver-Burk enzymology fame) was attempting to exploit this property by subjecting cancer cells to shock waves generated by explosives, in collaboration with scientists from the Naval Ordnance Lab in Maryland. They were able to kill cancer cells in vitro by lowering a wafer of explosive, lead styphnate, into the test tube of cells and setting it off electrically.
I remember one occasion when they used a Band-Aid to attach the explosive wafer to a tumor on the side of a mouse. When they set it off, the mouse went flying across the room. A portion of the work was published in Oncology (1970, 24, 187).
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