Bioessays Impact Factor

The study of the organism was then guided by what today is called an organicist perspective, whereby no body part could be understood but in relation to the other parts and the whole itself [2].

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Shortly after Boveri’s death in 1915, Whitman introduced the notion that the cancer cell was a “mutated” cell, and coined the idea of a somatic mutation to explain what Boveri had implied in his 1914 narrative (for further details, see [3]).

In his book, Boveri makes two main claims: the first is that is the default state of cells (“I hold it to be without any doubt that the tendency to continued multiplication is a primordial quality of cells, which only becomes inhibited in many-celled organisms through environmental influences.” pages 113–114 and 26–27).

Again quoting Boveri, “…in these altered conditions, the [tumor] cell reacts differently to its surroundings and this might be the sole cause of the tendency to unchecked cell multiplication” (page 6).

Finally, Boveri made the distinction that it is not abnormal mitosis that is the cause of cancer, but abnormal chromatin-complex (“…the essence of my theory is not the abnormal mitoses but a .” – Boveri’s italics, page 34).

In truth, this concept was originally stated by German pathologists in the 1880s.

Boveri and his predecessors merely seem to have accepted this concept as a self-evident truism. Steward, a botanist, shared this view with regard to plant cells [4].

For instance, using diverse experimental models, researchers have shown that mutated somatic cells (including carriers of chromosomal aberrations) belonging to cancers can be “normalized” [5].

This compelling evidence against the SMT is either ignored, or else incorporated as “add-ons” to the SMT in which the microenvironment also plays a role in carcinogenesis – albeit always subservient to mutations [8].

A monumental challenge now awaits experimental biologists, cancer researchers, and teachers at all levels of instruction.

The task is to go back to the metaphoric drawing board and rethink carcinogenesis and biology in general under consistently reliable, evolutionarily sound premises.


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