Man's physical universe

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PROTOPLASMIC AND CELLULAR ORGANIZATION 791

Perhaps you will want to join one of these modern crews of laboratory

exploration. Certainly you will want to give them your support and

keep informed as to their discoveries.

Carrel's Experiments Are Very Significant.

Alexis Carrel concluded from his studies that cells may be kept

alive in a wholly artificial environment, provided that they receive

the proper nutrients, as well as air, and that the waste products are

removed. On January 17, 1912 (at the Rockefeller Institute for

Medical Research), he extirpated a minute fragment from the heart

of a seven-day old chick embryo, immersed it in a drop of chick plasma,

and incubated it. At intervals, the fragment was washed in an isotonic

saline solution and placed in fresh medium. It pulsated for over one

hundred days after its separation from the original heart. But young

connective tissue cells called fibroblasts also were present in the

original tissue, and these gradually overgrew the muscle cells, so that

ultimately a pure strain of fibroblasts resulted. When chick embryonic

extract was added to the medium, the culture grew more rapidly and

soon doubled in size after forty-eight hours' incubation. Then subcultures

were made by dividing it into two parts, and soon thereafter,

by repeated transfer, the strain was well established. Later, the

techniques were improved, and the cultures were grown in glass

containers called Carrel flasks, which greatly simplified the procedures.

When this paragraph was written in 1941, at the Lederle Laboratories

cultures derived from the original bit of tissue were still

multiplying

actively. There is no reason to believe that this strain of fibroblasts

cannot be kept alive for hundreds of years. Had it been feasible since

the beginning of the experiment to cultivate every subculture, ad

infinitum, the mass of tissue that could have been obtained would

long since have exceeded the bulk of the sun.

Charles Lindbergh's "Heart Pump" Permits Organs to Be Kept Alive.

Charles Lindbergh, working with Alexis Carrel, invented a perfusion

pump which causes a nutrient liquid to circulate rhythmically through

the arterial and venous systems of an organ. In this pump hundreds

of organs, hearts, lungs, livers, etc., have been kept alive for from two

to thirty days; the heart continues to beat and the glands continue to

secrete hormones. Eventually, however, poisonous wastes accumulate,

and the organ ceases to function. Perhaps some modification in

technique might make it possible to remove these waste products. Is

it the accumulation of waste products that causes old age? Might it

not be possible to find some substance that would react with these

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