Cancer virus book mentions Epstein, Rous and Rockefeller Institute

by Stephen Hewitt, 11 June 2014

Epstein, of EB virus fame, also worked on the Rous virus and had studied at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, according to a book I happened upon in Waterstones in Cambridge today. Cancer Virus, Dorothy H Crawford, Alan Rickinson & Ingolfur Johannessen, OUP, 2014. He was the first to show the Rous sarcoma virus had an RNA genome, according to the book, which cites this reference Nature, 181:1808. 1958. I also gleaned that there are at least five more types of human tumour viruses.

Epstein was working at the Bland Sutton Institute. Later I found an obituary on the web for the man who was its director from 1920 until 1948, James McIntosh.

"In later years he applied his experience in handling viruses to the experimental study of cancer. He made the important observation that tumours induced by tar in fowls could be transmitted by cell-free filtrates. Although other workers have brought forward indirect evidence in support of his findings, none has succeeded in repeating his demonstration of a virus agent in these induced tumours. He was firmly of the opinion that viruses played the dominant part in the aetiology of tumours, and, with the further inroads that are being made by virologists into the tumour problem, his work is now gaining increasing respect."

JAMES McINTOSH, F. R. Selbie, J Clin Pathol 1948 1: 251-252

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