118 THE ENZYME TREATMENT OF CANCER
commencing functional activity of the pancreas which initiates the degenerative changes in the asexual generation. At this epoch, the critical period, the fish commences to feed itself on yolk, not by an (intracellular) acid “peptic” digestion, but by an alkaline pancreatic one. In some of the textbooks of physiology stands the statement that the human pancreas at birth “contains trypsin and the fat-decomposing ferment, but not the diastatic one “* (Zweifel); but, as I know from my comparative observations of years past, its activities really commence at the time the anus is formed, early in the seventh week of gestation, at a period when in the days of long ago the organism would have begun to digest the yolk of its now empty yolk-sac. The pancreas functions throughout foetal life in a mammal, though it has nothing to digest except the trophoblast.
During foetal life the pancreas gland is pouring out its secretion into an intestine which at the present day contains no food to be digested, for the food of the foetus (has been prepared by the pancreatic digestion of the ‘mother. To the foetus in utero this alkaline digestion is of no direct use, but it has an indirect import in acting upon trophoblast. The commencing activities of the pancreas during foetal life initiate an alkaline digestion by means of the most powerful and important of all the digestive juices. To which of its ferments the observed results be due does not concern us.** If the secretion be
* The diastatic ferment is, of course, amylopsin. Here, therefore, on the first appearance in a medical journal of an advocacy of pancreatic ferments in cancer, amylopsin is noted, and its absence at birth mentioned along with the name of Zweifel as the discoverer of this fact.
** The writer had intended, in correcting the proof for the Lancet, to insert the following note, which was actually spoken at Liverpool on January 20, 1905: ‘As my work of past years has revealed, at the critical period the embryo, complete in all (continued p 119)