pasteur/genetech/cancer-link ?

suter at suter at
Thu Jun 17 10:41:29 EST 1993

in article <1vpl3kINNmgq at> robin walters wrote:

+>Hello, folks.  Why has no one responded?  I do not believe it is possible to
+>show that someone can "catch" cancer.  It would take not only the organism with
+>the oncogene to be viable away from it's growth medium, but in a totally 
+>foreign organism, e.g. humans, long enough to pass along genetic material.
+>The genetic material would have to be transferred in such a way as to be still
+>intact.  Given that we have lots of living bacteria and virii in our systems 
+>and we don't transfer DNA with *them*, I don't see that this is possible, never
+>mind likely.  In summary, IMNSHO, I don't believe it at all.  Please show me
+>some proof, first...  then I will take this up again.  
+1. Cervical cancer is "caught" - it is virally induced.
+2. I'm not sure, but I always believed that SV40 is viable in humans, so if it
+carried an oncogene it could readily propagate and cause disease -  The
+principle of viral oncogenes is well known (let's face it, it's how genes
+such as src and ras were discovered). I think it is not unlikely that an
+oncogene cloned into SV40 would be tumour-inducing.

i think this  hypothesis lead to most of the restrictions
on genetech; quite rightly in my opinion.

however, there is a distinct difference between what could be possible,
what is rumoured to have happened or an event that actually took place.

in my opinion the borders between these three are sometimes a little diffuse
on the newsgroups (hey: my buddy knows the uncle of a friend of 
somebody from MIT who's  sister was told my somebody in the
elevator that dna can be precipitated without alcohol ! great, we should all
try it !)

but this is actually not the point i would like to make. questions are:

1. did people get cancer at the pasteur inst.
2. how many ?
3. where they in contact with oncogenes, what constructs ?
4. was the incident relevant (in that sense, that at my mother's 
company, where they sold telephones, within one year five people died of 
cancer---> i think most will agree that this is probably a coincedence and 
not the result of handling telephones).

as i said before: do any of you have pointers toward a clarification on the
pasteur / genetech / cancer story ? newspaper articles ? journals ?


Clemens Suter-Crazzolara, PhD
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Zuechtungsforschung
Abteilung Genetische Grundlagen der Zuechtungsforschung
Carl-von-Linne Weg 10
5000 Koeln 30
Tel. xx49-221-5062.221       Fax. xx49-221-5062.213
e-mail: suter at

More information about the Bioforum mailing list