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Curiosity & Collaboration:
The Work of Michael Potter
(1924–2013)

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Mouse Reliquaries, 1960-1961

13.0017.006-7

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

“When PCTs (plasma cell tumors) became more available, many workers attempted to establish them in tissue culture. The story was always the same: ‘We have put the PCT cells in culture ... will call you back next week to report the progress’—but the calls never came because the cells failed to sustain their initial growth and died.” Quote from Michael Potter, “The Early History of Plasma Cell Tumors in Mice, 1954-1976.”
 photo of box containing mouse reliquaries

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Potter wanted to study the early stages of tumor growth, but the tumors only grew in animals. Each of these containers holds the bones of one mouse. The labels indicate the mouse’s identifying number, gender, and colony, as well as what the mouse was injected with, such as “1 dose one Fruends adj + Staph” or “mineral oil only,” and when it was injected. Potter would inspect the bones for lesions about 90 days after tumor X5563 had been transplanted into the mice.


close up photo of mouse reliquaries

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Finally, in 1986, Richard Nordan, a graduate student in Potter’s laboratory found that tumors could be grown in tissue culture, if they were grown in liquids from cultured white blood cells called macrophages. He identified the component in the liquid as interleukin-6, which is involved in the growth and differentiation of normal white blood cells. They had discovered a way to grow tumors in the laboratory and a new tool for scientists of many specialties that did not require the use of animals.

Close up of a glass vial containing mouse bones

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Close up of a glass vial containing mouse bones

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Close up of box containing small containers of mouse bones

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Close up of 2 small containers of mouse bones colony 80289 and another with mineral oil only

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Close up of small metal canister of mouse bones colony 2031

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Close up of yet another small metal canister of mouse bones colony 4049

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

final close up of small metal canister of mouse bones colony 6027

Donated by Dr. Beverly Mock

Read Nordan and Potter’s paper, “A macrophage-derived factor required by plasmacytomas for survival and proliferation in vitro,” Science 233(4763), 01 Aug 1986, pp. 566-569.

Artifacts