Article

Journal of Biological Physics

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 227-237

Are there electrochemical aspects of cancer?

  • J. O' M. BockrisAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Texas A&M University
  • , M. A. HabibAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Texas A&M University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Szent-Gyorgyi first suggested that electron transfer in the bulk of biological materials could be significant. Recent evidence in favor of this concept is cited. Electron transfer processes occur at interfaces involving glass, cellulosic, and biological membranes. Electron transfer controls the rate of redox processes at some interfaces.

Biological cells can be represented in terms of fuel cell concepts. They adhere and divide, depending upon their surface charge. If the charge is too high, division leads to metastasis.

The surface electrical charge in biological cells is affected in two ways, corresponding to the electrochemical description of interfaces as polarizable and nonpolarizable. At polarizable interfaces, concepts of adsorption determine the surface charge for a given condition. In non-polarizable interfaces, electrode-kinetic concepts (i.e., the rates of the reactions) are directly related to the surface charge.

Cancer, it is suggested, occurs when the charge is sufficiently repuslive. Carcinogenic substances adsorb upon the cell substances and affect primarily the electrode kinetics, or charge density. The role of DNA is to create genes which produce substances which act as scavengers for materials which adsorb upon and, thus, affect the electrical state of the cell surface.