• Corpus ID: 18037326

MILESTONES IN BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH A History of Vitamin A and Retinoids

  title={MILESTONES IN BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH A History of Vitamin A and Retinoids},
  author={George Wolf},
Vitamin A has probably been known for at least 3500 years as a factor that can cure a deficiency disease. Ancient Egyptians appear to have recognized night blindness, which we now know to be caused by vitamin A deficiency, and found a cure for it (1). However, this view has been disputed by modern scholars (2): the papyrus Ebers (ca. 1500 B.C.) (1) mentions an unspecified eye disease, sharew, but not night blindness; the word “night” does not appear. The recommended cure was “roasted ox liver… 


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It has been shown that retinoids can exert effects on certain fully transformed, invasive, neoplastic cells, leading in certain instances to a suppression of proliferation and in other instances to terminal differentiation of these cells, resulting in a more benign, nonneoplastic pheno type.
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These findings reflect the facts that RBP is produced in the liver and mainly catabolized in the kidneys, and delivery of retinol to extra-hepatic tissues appears to involve specific cell surface receptors for RBP.
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No other condition seems definitely associated with Vitamin A deficiency in Newfoundland, butFunctional hemeralopia, not directly associated with beri-beri or scurvy, occurs amongst them.
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Comparative illustrations show the symptoms in ancient Egyptian and modern patients, and the criteria by which ancient Egyptian doctors made their diagnosis - many still valid today - are highlighted.
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Intratracheal instillation of 60 mg dust (3 mg benzpyrene + 3 mg hematite, 10 weekly doses) produced 13 squamous lung tumors in 11 animals out of 53 at risk. Vitamin A supplementation (5000 IU, twice
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The article that follows consists of most of the lecture delivered by Professor Wald last December when he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in Stockholm.
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