Robert O Becker Paper Chronology

Chronology of papers by Dr Robert O Becker [1923-2008] on the subjects of cell modification by low intensity direct current (LIDC), standing electric field (EF), and electrically generated silver (Ag+) cations, with additional comments.

1. Becker RO, Murray DG. A Method for Producing Cellular Dedifferentiation by Means of Very Small Electrical Currents. Trans N Y Acad Sci. 1967 Mar;29(5):606-15.

  • Initial reported discovery of these effects, before later findings and experiments with Ag+ oxidation from anode electrode and Ag+ iontophoresis.

2. Harrington DB, Becker RO. Electrical stimulation of RNA and protein synthesis in the frog erythrocyte. Exp Cell Res. 1973 Jan;76(1):95-8.

  • In his book, The Body Electric, edition [edition 1, Jan 1985 ], Becker reports genetic reprogramming for cell re-differentiation confirmed, but not via the nanoampere DC or EF of the 1967 paper, but by the new discovery of silver cation (Ag+) signalling effects. But from the Abstract of the paper:

Mature nucleated amphibian erythrocytes can be stimulated to undergo morphological changes resembling de-differentiation when exposed to small amounts of electric current. Puromycin and cyclohexamide will inhibit these morphological changes, and cytochemical staining indicates that RNA synthesis begins in concert with the changes in morphology. Autoradiographic studies show that the erythrocytes exposed to electric current synthesize RNA and protein whereas the erythrocytes not exposed to current do not make appreciable amounts of macromolecules. Electrophoretic separation of proteins from stimulated cells exhibit a band pattern different from that of unstimulated erythrocytes, and scintillation counting shows that some of the new proteins have been synthesized after electrical stimulation.

3. Berger TJ, Spadaro JA, Chapin SE, Becker RO. Electrically generated silver ions: quantitative effects on bacterial and mammalian cells. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1976 Feb;9(2):357-8. PMID: 94455.

4. 1st patent, filed1982. Processes and products involving cell modification.

  • Documents the 1973 paper as medical technology innovation.

“According to the present invention, suitable metal ions from a positive electrode are applied to living mammalian cells in order to modify them.”

5. 2nd patent, filed 1996. Iontopheretic system for stimulation of tissue healing and regeneration

  • Further documents the 1973 and 1976 papers as medical technology innovation.

“Electrically-generated silver ions from the anode penetrate into the adjacent tissues and undergo a series of three reactions.”

6. Becker RO. Effects of electrically generated silver ions on human cells and wound healing. Electro- and Magnetobiology, 19:1, 1-19. Published online: 07 Jul 2009, DOI: 10.1081/JBC-100100293.

  • Discusses that effects might be due to electric current itself, or at least it cannot be ruled out as the effector, but seems to be from Ag+s.

The Abstract begins:

“A method of producing local antibiotic effects by means of an iontophoretic technique using free silver ions.”

Then in the Conclusions:

“It is believed that this in vitro process is the same as that going on in the silver-treated wound. The responsible agent for these cellular effects is believed to be the electrically generated silver ion, although some ancillary effect of the iontophoretic current itself cannot be ruled out at present.” [And can never be because you cannot separate the current from the iontophoresis and electrical Ag+ generation.]

7. Becker RO. Induced dedifferentiation: a possible alternative to embryonic stem cell transplants. NeuroRehabilitation. 2002;17(1):23-31.

“More recently the use of a newly developed silvered nylon fabric has been found to have similar results without the need for electrical parameters. The results of a preliminary laboratory and clinical study of this material are presented.”

Comments by Richard Malter:

Both a standing EF longitudinally orientated along the pathway of a LIDC, and an electrically generated Ag+ having a point source EF, have been reported by Becker to have cell phenotype modifying effects.

The mechanisms of action of the different stimulations may or may not differ, as may the details of the specific cellular changing effects as a result from each type of electrical stimulation.

In any possible design of an experiment involving electrically generated Ag+s, the effector and the effects may be inseparable, absolutely, as an electrically introduced Ag+ has its own electric field that can be modeled as a point source, and in turn needs a potential difference (EF) to drive it.

The immediately occurring natural voltage and ‘current of injury’ directly measured along (salamander) amphibian limbs and the severed peripheral nerves following (experimentally inflicted) injury has nothing to do with Ag+s unless the animals had been licking silver spoons. Likewise, direct measurements of the current of injury along periosteum above bone fractures taken by Becker have nothing to do with Ag+s. And the other way around, as confirmed in his original 1967 paper, LIDCs and EFs are naturally and can be externally applied effectors of phenotype conversion.

The following 2004 paper likewise reports that: 

Nerve regeneration and wound healing are stimulated and directed by an endogenous electrical field in vivo. [and not by Ag+s]