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Concerning the Origin of Malignant Tumours

Subject Area(s):  Cell BiologyCancer BiologyHistory of Science

By Theodor Boveri; Translated and annotated by Sir Henry Harris

© 2008 • 82 pp.
Paperback • $25.00 22.50
ISBN  978-087969788-4
You save: 10%

Co-published with The Company of Biologists

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An English translation of Boveri's famous monograph which was first published in Germany in 1914.

Written almost a hundred years ago, Theodor Boveri's Zur Frage der Entstehung maligner Tumoren has had a momentous impact on cancer research. In it he argues that malignancy arises as a consequence of chromosomal abnormalities and that multiplication is an inherent property of cells. With astonishing prescience, Boveri predicts in this monograph the existence of tumor suppressor mechanisms and is perhaps the first to suggest that hereditary factors (genes) are linearly arranged along chromosomes. This new translation by Sir Henry Harris, Regius Professor of Medicine Emeritus at Oxford University and former Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Cell Science, includes extensive annotations in which he discusses the relevance of Boveri's views today. It is essential reading for all cancer researchers, as well as those interested in the history of cytogenetics and cell biology.


I. Introduction
II. Some Observations from Experimental Cytology
III. Relevance to the Study of Tumours
IV. The Explanatory Value of the Hypothesis
V. Consideration of Some Objections
VI. Conclusion


review:  “What makes Boveri’s writing worth reading almost a century later is his ability to distil complex information, including the ideas and observations of others, into brilliant, incisive syntheses. For those biologists among us who are interested in how we got to where we are, this book makes fascinating reading, even if it does not lay down an accurate trail of previous discoveries. Cancer research over the past century has involved a succession of blind alleys and detours, mountains of largely uninterpretable observational data and the occasional brilliant leap forward. This book takes us back to the humble beginnings of this now thriving field.”