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Cancer theory stands the test of time – rediscovering Boveri a century later

02/29/2008

Cancer theory stands the test of time – rediscovering Boveri a century later

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. – Rarely has a book in the biological sciences proved as prescient as Theodor Boveri’s 1914 monograph Concerning the Origin of Malignant Tumours. Out of print for decades and previously almost impossible to track down, the book is now available as a new and authoritative translation, co-published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and The Company of Biologists.

Concerning the Origin of Malignant Tumours had a huge impact on cancer research. In it, Boveri was the first to argue that cancer is caused by defects in chromosomes and that these can be caused by a failure of cells to divide properly. He also proposed that the cell’s natural urge is to divide and that it is held in check by specific mechanisms that prevent cancer – almost a hundred years later we know this to be true, having identified so-called ‘tumor suppressors’ like the retinoblastoma protein. Perhaps most astonishingly, Boveri also predicted the existence of genes, suggesting that “hereditary characters” are aligned along chromosomes in a specific order.

Regularly quoted – and frequently misquoted – the only English version of Concerning the Origin of Malignant Tumours ever available before was a rare translation by Boveri’s wife, who was not a biologist. The new translation is by Sir Henry Harris, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, and includes extensive annotations in which Harris discusses the relevance of Boveri’s views today.

Reviewing the book, leading geneticist Felix Mitelman wrote that he “cannot find superlatives enough to praise the lucid text,” adding that “the annotations contain words of wisdom that I wish could be made compulsory reading.”


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About the book:
Concerning the Origin of Malignant Tumours by Theodor Boveri (© 2008 by The Company of Biologists Limited and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press) was translated and annotated by Sir Henry Harris (Oxford University). It is available in paperback (ISBN 978-087969788-4) and is 82 pp. in length. For additional information, please see www.cshlpress.com/link/cnorgtmr.htm .

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press is an internationally renowned publisher of books, journals, and electronic media, located on Long Island, New York. Since 1933, it has furthered the advance and spread of scientific knowledge in all areas of genetics and molecular biology, including cancer biology, plant science, bioinformatics, and neurobiology. It is a division of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an innovator in life science research and the education of scientists, students, and the public. For more information, visit www.cshlpress.com .

Contact:
Ingrid Benirschke, Book Marketing Manager benirsch@cshl.edu; 619-275-6021

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