A History of Cancer Research: Carcinogens and Mutagens
Journal: 2021/March - Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine
Observations of the incidence of tumors among chimney sweeps in the eighteenth century and later experiments with coal tars provided early evidence that carcinogens in the environment can promote cancer. Subsequent studies of individuals exposed to radiation, work on fly genetics, and the discovery that DNA was the genetic material led to the idea that these carcinogens act by inducing mutations in DNA that change the behavior of cells and ultimately cause cancer. In this excerpt from his forthcoming book, Joe Lipsick looks back at how the concepts of mutagenesis and carcinogenesis emerged, how these converged with development of the Ames test, and how biochemistry and crystallography ultimately revealed the underlying molecular basis.
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