How to ‘deconvolute’ lung evolution - evolutionary lessons from cell culture

Published on March 31, 2016   15 min

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My name is John Torday. I'm a professor in the Evolutionary Medicine Program at UCLA. This lecture is entitled "Evolutionary Lessons from Cell Culture."
Alexis Carrel was a French surgeon and biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1912 for pioneering vascular suturing techniques. He invented the first perfusion pump with Charles Lindbergh, opening the way to organ transplantation. Carrel co-authored a book with famed pilot, Charles Lindbergh, entitled "The Culture of Organs", and worked with Lindbergh in the mid-1930s to create the perfusion pump, which allowed living organs to exist outside the body during surgery. The advance is said to have been a crucial step in the development of open heart surgery and organ transplants and to have laid the groundwork for the artificial heart, which became a reality decades later. Some of Lindbergh's critics claimed that Carrel overstated Lindbergh's role to gain media attention but other sources say Lindbergh played an important role in developing the device. Both Lindbergh and Carrel appeared on the cover of Time magazine on June 13, 1938. Carrel was also interested in the phenomenon of senescence or aging. He claimed incorrectly that all cells continue to grow indefinitely and this became a dominant view in the early 20th century. Carrel started an experiment on January 17, 1912, where he placed tissue cultured embryonic chicken heart cells in a stoppered Pyrex flask of his own design. He maintained the living culture for over 20 years, with regular supplies of nutrient. This was longer than a chicken's normal lifespan. The experiment which was conducted at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, attracted considerable popular and scientific attention. Carrel's experiment was never successfully replicated and in the 1960s, Leonard Hayflick and Paul Moorhead proposed that differentiated cells can undergo only a limited number of divisions before dying. This is known as the Hayflick limit, and is now a pillar of biology. It is not certain how Carrel obtained his anomalous results. Leonard Hayflick suggests that the daily feeding of nutrient was continually introducing new living cells to the alleged immortal culture.

How to ‘deconvolute’ lung evolution - evolutionary lessons from cell culture

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