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Physiol Chem Phys. 1980;12(2):99-110.

The living state and cancer.


Most inanimate systems are build of closed-shell molecules in which electrons lack excitability and mobility. These electrons can be rendered reactive and mobile by taking out some of them, desaturating the system electronically. Single electrons can be taken out of molecules by transfer to an external acceptor, creating two radicals that form a biradical having no net charge. The living state is such an electronically desaturated state. The universal electron acceptor of the biosphere is oxygen. Before light and O2 appeared, a weak electron acceptor could occur through linkage of two C=O groups to glyoxal and addition of a methyl group. The resulting methylglyoxal, being a weak acceptor, could lead to only a low degree of desaturation and thus to formation of only the simple life forms extant during this dark and anaerobic period--the alpha period. During the subsequent aerobic beta period, more highly differentiated life forms could develop because of occurrence of O2, a strong electron acceptor leading to a greater degree of desaturation. When dividing, however, beta-type cells return partially to the proliferative alpha state. The process of electron (charge) transfer, described here in two models, depends on the dielectric constant of the medium and the relative concentration of SH and methylglyoxal. Structure-building proteins that perform the main biological functions carry with them this chemical mechanism of their desaturation. Central to the mechanism is the NH2 of lysine that attaches a methylglyoxal. Through folding of the side chain, the CO groups of resulting Schiff bases can come in touch with the NH's of the peptide chain and accept electrons from it, desaturating it. Ascorbic acid is the catalyst of this charge transfer, which brings protein into the living state. Purified protein is inanimate matter. Manganese and oxygen form part of the chemical mechanism of desaturation, and the charge transfer reactions studied were found to be autocatalytic. It follows from the above observations that a cancer cell is a cell trapped in the alpha state.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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