The Scientific War Work of Linus C. Pauling Narrative  
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Canceled
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By the spring of 1945, Pauling had virtually given up on the project. He had resigned from his position as responsible investigator and allowed Dan Campbell to take his place. For years Pauling's other research had been suspended in favor of war projects, but with the plasma substitute project virtually non-functioning, Pauling was now able to return to his long-dormant work. As a result, his Oxypolygelatin program was relegated to correspondence with gelatin manufacturers and a few curious scientists. In a letter to Chester Keefer of the Committee on Medical Research, Pauling stated,

"I feel that the development of Oxypolygelatin has been delayed by a full twelve months by the failure of the CMR to arrange for the physiological testing of the preparation, despite the assurances to me, beginning July 24, 1943, that this testing would be carried out under CMR arrangement. I feel that I myself am also to blame, for having continued to rely upon the CMR, long after it should have been clear to me that the promised action was not being taken and presumably would not be taken."

The project was dead. The CMR had lost interest and no lab in the country was either willing or capable of performing the tests that Pauling required. Even worse for the project, Germany was on the brink of surrender and Japan was losing ground in the Pacific; the war would be over soon and with victory would come the closure of war research programs all over the country. The team quietly disbanded, each member returning to old tasks or starting up fresh lines of research. In 1946 Pauling, Koepfli and Campbell filed for a patent for Oxypolygelatin and its manufacturing process, which they immediately transferred to the California Institute Research Foundation.

In 1947 the American Association of Blood Banks was founded and in 1948 the American National Red Cross began widespread blood donation campaigns. The creation of these two programs allowed for large supplies of fresh blood to be dispersed throughout the U.S. hospital system on a regular basis, virtually eliminating the need for a plasma substitute during peacetime.

While Pauling was the source of many scientific breakthroughs during his career, in the end, Oxypolygelatin appeared to be a failed project. Over the following years, he would occasionally discuss his blood plasma work with an interested scientist or mention it in a symposium address, but he never returned to the Oxypolygelatin problem. Years later he was told that the gel had been used by U.S. forces during the Korean War and that, in some case, Los Angeles motorcycle police were even equipped with it for fast response in traffic accidents. Though Pauling was never able to confirm these reports, it is plausible that Oxypolygelatin more of a future than Pauling or his colleagues knew.

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Audio Clip  Audio: Oxypolygelatin Not Approved for Human Use. August 23, 1991. (2:07) Transcript and More Information

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Audio Clip  Audio: Post-War Uses of Oxypolygelatin. April 14, 1992. (2:21) Transcript and More Information

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See Also: "The Condensation and Oxidation of Gelatin with Glyoxal and Hydrogen Peroxide for the Preparation of a Plasma Substitute (Oxypolygelatin)." 1949. 
See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Ma Hai-teh. February 7, 1974. 

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Picture
Linus Pauling holding two laboratory rabbits. 1942.


Page 1
Letter from Linus Pauling to B. O. Raulston. September 19, 1944.

"The recommendation of the NRC Committee was that [your contract] not be extended and the CMR, acting in accordance with it, voted not to extend."

A. N. Richards
May 14, 1944
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