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Ancient Dog DNA Reveals Close Relationship with Contagious Cancer (scientificamerican.com)
37 points by ax00x 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments



...Through the 1950’s and ’60’s Chester Southam, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, experimentally injected cancer cells into more than 300 people, often without properly informing them. Some subjects, which included prison inmates, developed tumors from the injected cells. (Southam was never prosecuted and was later elected president of the American Association for Cancer Research.)

Three things struck me as odd about this passage: (1) that I had never seen references to this research before; (2) it seems to have been a key experiment in determining that some forms of cancer are communicable; and (3) the lack of outcry, especially coming so soon after the Holocaust.

Southam later had this to say about what he had done, quoted in the NYT:

"It is not necessary to present [the subject] with what you feel are inconsequential data and [it is] unethical to ram down his throat information which is detrimental to his condition."

https://www.nytimes.com/1964/01/26/archives/many-scientific-...

And later:

Thirty years later, Southam remained convinced his research was both sound and scientifically important. He was unwavering in his belief that none of the patients injected with the cancer cells would contract the disease.

When I asked, “What if they had?” he calmly replied, “If they did, we’d just cut it out.”

https://nypost.com/2013/12/28/nycs-forgotten-cancer-scandal/


I just watched a few things about block 10, operation paperclip and nuremberg 2nd trial and .. indeed it's unbelievable that such things happened in the 50s.


I'm confused:

    Some subjects, which included prison inmates, developed tumors from the injected cells. 
and later

    When I asked, “What if they had?” he calmly replied, “If they did, we’d just cut it out.”
So did they or didn't they?


Wild ass guess: Some patients developed localized tumors at the injection site, which were eradicated by the host immune system. Thus some could have tumors without really developing a disease we would call cancer

Edit: I've actually seen this exact reaction with subcutaneous injections of tumor cells in mice.


Makes sense. Thanks for clarifying the difference.


The first sentence is talking about tumors while the second is talking about cancer.


NYT coverage discussed yesterday:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17481404


Interesting. I thought that Tasmanian devil face tumors were the only directly transmissible cancer


I seem to recall there's a certain type of bivalve (clam? oyster?) that suffers it too.


/s? These are both mentioned in the article...




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