Hair, Feathers Aid Cancer War (Sep, 1939)
Hair, Feathers Aid Cancer War
HAIR trimmed from 1,000,000 heads and feathers of 500,000 chickens provide a crystalline substance known as cystine used by eastern laboratories in the widening war on cancer. This new weapon in the fight against disease is a colorless, odorless chemical. Five thousand haircuts provide 100 pounds of hair, which in turn yield only five pounds of cystine.
Janitors in barbershops from New York to Los Angeles collect hair for the Paul-Lewis Laboratories at Milwaukee, Wis., where it is reduced to the white precipitate. First, the hair is packed into large flasks. One bottle, filled with 30 pounds, represents 1,500 haircuts; or it may contain selected feathers from 800 chickens. The hair is boiled 10 hours and cooled overnight. Then, after being filtered, neutralized, decolorized by 15 separate treatments, and washed in alcohol and ether, the cancer-fighting precipitate is finally purified.