Biology: A Deadly Signal

One of the most fascinating reports at last week's New Orleans seminar of the American Cancer Society was made not by a doctor or biologist, but by an aeronautical engineer. Clarence Cone Jr., of NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, was assigned by the space agency to study the effect on cell division of any radiation that astronauts might encounter. Cone knew that normal cells, grown in the laboratory, will not multiply and crowd one another beyond a certain point. But cancer cells lack this "contact inhibition," and are joined by intimate bonds or "bridges" of cellular material.

During his research,...

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