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Linus Pauling in the News

Linus Pauling’s early theoretical research on the bonds that hold water molecules together has been confirmed by experiments conducted by a team of researchers in the United States, Canada, and France. In 1935, Pauling applied quantum-mechanical theory to the nature of the bonds that form between water molecules and asserted that these bonds were comprised of both electrostatic forces, or hydrogen bonds, and covalent bonds that "leak" from the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water molecules. Dr. Eric Isaacs of Bell Labs and his colleagues used synchrotron x-rays at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, to examine the bonds in ice and confirmed Pauling’s theory. Their work was published in the January 18th issue of the Physical Review Letters.

In another development late last year, Dr. Jean-Francois Allemand and his French colleagues published a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. that described another stable form of DNA, which is usually conformed as a double helix. In 1953, Pauling and Corey proposed a triple-helical structure for DNA that positioned the phosphate groups on the inside of the helix. A few months later, Watson and Crick proposed the double helix, which was quickly accepted as the correct structure and led to a Nobel Prize. (Many believe that had Pauling been allowed to travel to England to view firsthand the x-ray crystallographic data obtained by Dr. Rosalind Franklin, he may have been the first to deduce the correct structure of DNA. The U. S. State Department had revoked Pauling's passport because his anti-Communist statements were not strong enough.) Dr. Allemand and his colleagues have identified a helical form of DNA, termed P-DNA, that shares with the Pauling-Corey model the feature of having the phosphate backbone on the inside of the structure and the bases exposed. The authors propose that this form of DNA may occur during DNA replication and transcription.

Linus Pauling’s final (!?) paper has been published in the Fall 1998 issue of the Journal of Advancement in Medicine. He and his co-authors, Wolcott Dunham, Constance Tsao, and Zelek Herman, reported that supplemental vitamin C given to guinea pigs in the drinking water significantly delays the onset of tumors produced by implanting hepatocarcinoma cells into their skin. In this model system, supplemental vitamin C did not appreciably affect the growth rate of tumors once formed.

A new book by Dr. Abram Hoffer, Vitamin C and Cancer, will be published this year and features major contributions by Linus Pauling, whose earlier book with Dr. Ewan Cameron, Cancer and Vitamin C: A Discussion of the Nature, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment of Cancer with Special Reference to the Value of Vitamin C, continues to provide valuable information for cancer patients.