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    In scores of laboratories gadgeteering goes on. Atomic medicines are being put into capsules, safer and easier to handle than long "hot" drinks. To irradiate cancers in the stomach and bladder, balloons are inserted which can be filled with radioactive liquid or fitted with a solid, pinpoint source of radioactivity. Radioactive gold wire is built into hollow nylon sutures to be stitched into a tumor. For external radiation, frighteningly powerful amounts of atomic energy are being baked into little wafers of cobalt ("the poor man's radium").

    Finally, in the most dramatic of all experiments in atomic medicine, Boston's Dr. William H. Sweet and Brookhaven's Dr. Lee E. Farr have developed something entirely new: internal, instantaneous radiation for treatment of brain tumors.

    The first patient who received this treatment was almost unconscious when she went to Brookhaven. The woman could not talk and did not recognize her family. Into her bloodstream the doctors injected a solution containing boron, a common, stable element with an atomic weight of 10. But under neutron bombardment, boron-10 changes to an excited boron-11, which lives about one-hundredth of a trillionth of a second. In that infinitesimal fraction of time before it decays to stable lithium, it shoots out alpha particles.

    When the boron had soaked through the woman's system, including the brain tumor that was killing her, the doctors placed her head near Brookhaven's high-flux pile. While the doctors watched from a platform, the pile operator threw the controls and a stream of neutrons from the pile shot through her skull, aimed at the tumor site. For 17 minutes the boron in the tumor was turned, atom by atom, into a source of instantaneous alpha radiation.

    The patient lived only two months after the treatment, but in that interval she was up & about, talked almost normally, and enjoyed movies and baseball games. This epoch-making treatment has been used so far on only half a dozen patients. All that Drs. Sweet and Farr will say is that the results in the last two cases were most encouraging.

    The Elementary Questions. It is in fundamental research that atomic medicine comes into its own. Here the frontiers of man's knowledge of how his body works, and how its every cell functions, are being extended day by day. To the men with their eyes on the future, the most elementary things, seemingly the simplest, are by far the most important. Certainly they have proved so far to be the most baffling.

    What, for instance, happens to a relatively simple compound such as sugar when it is taken into the body in food or drink? What goes wrong with sugar metabolism in the diabetic patient? At what point does the normal metabolic chain snap? Now, at last, biochemists hope to find out. At Manhattan's Memorial Hospital and elsewhere, they have built common sugars such as sucrose and dextrose with one or more atoms of radioactive carbon-14. As the tagged sugar goes through the system and eventually escapes, its progress can be clocked. Doctors already know that there is more to diabetes than the body's inability to "burn" sugar. With tracers, they expect to find that the trouble lies in the body's failure to do a good job converting what it gets from sugar into fats or protein.

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