BIOCHEMISTRY.

BIOCHEMISTRY.

1009 The importance of biochemistry seems to lie in two directions. We still have the old distinction THE between " physiological chemists" and " ch...

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1009 The importance of biochemistry seems to lie in two directions. We still have the old distinction

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between " physiological chemists" and " chemical physiologists," between, for example, those who study the fate of &bgr;-phenyl-iso-butyric acid in the body in

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terms of its chemical

constitution, and those who examine the influence of a cow’s diet on the antiLONDON: SATURDAY, MAY 17, 1924. rachitic value of its milk. But the enormous gain in the existence of a more or less independent discipline biochemistry is that both groups of students now BIOCHEMISTRY. work in the same building, belong to the same CAMBRIDGE put on scarlet on Friday last to greet society, and publish their results in the same journal. the Chancellor, to do honour to a great and well-loved Biochemistry, in short, achieves what is so much needed - teacher, and to open the new biochemical laboratories. in these times-a union and collaboration between Everyone will applaud the discretion of the trustees two sections of scientific workers instead of a who have chosen the provision of an ample material segregation and separation which has been the field for the development of Prof. HOPKINS’S activities unfortunate result of the modern expansion and .as the best way of carrying out Sir WILLIAM DUNN’S development. And it does this in the most effective direction that his estate should be used " for the way by its very nature, and without any of the useless .alleviation of human suffering." We are reminded of scheming for coordination and integration of which the simple motto which guides the benefactions of so much is heard and so little seen. The chemist -the Rockefeller Foundation-"the well-being of and biologist now lie down together ; they desire mankind throughout the world "-and it is a signal knowledge and ensue it. And if physiological chemistry .encouragement to the profession that the development has not explained life it has made a surprising amount of medicine along the broadest lines should be so of progress in explaining the mechanisms of live generously recognised as one of the most hopeful animals and plants and how they work, partly along the lines of classical chemistry, more particularly roads towards human betterment. No one need be very old to remember the time when in the field where the commingling of chemistry and biochemistry was not. Thirty years ago the English physics shows again the fruitfulness of natural .student of physiology was exhilarated by Dr. cooperation. That many harassed minds have found " colloids " as the old lady did WOOLDRIDGE’S translation of Bunge’s Lectures which as much comfort in " " in was published in 1890, and wondered at the erudition Mesopotamia does not detract from the really ,of Prof. HALLIBURTON’S " Text-book of Chemical substantial progress in our understanding of how the Physiology and Pathology " which appeared in the body works which has been attained by knowing following year. There was a general feeling that those something of the properties of particles too big to who sought to understand the working of the body molecules, too small to be pieces of stuff. And in the same way the chemical physiologist has pushed to as as know its chemical well composition .ought its minute anatomy, and courses of physiological forward with detailed explanations in almost every study followed a rough grouping into experimental, department of biology, and not least in the normal chemical, and histological sections. Chemists as a and abnormal human physiology which is the special whole were contemptuous of the messy slimes concern of medicine. No further evidence is needed associated with life, though a change of heart was of the utility of the theory and practice of bioadumbrated by amiable disputes as to the relative chemistry in medicine than the change which has merits of "chemical physiology "and "physiological come over clinical laboratories in about the last chemistry." The mechanistic physiology of the 15 years. To the outfits for histology and bacteriology nineteenth century was reaching its culmination, the there is now everywhere added the armamentarium impetus of DARWIN on biological studies was beginning and the vocabulary of the chemist. The progress of has been so ample and sound because it to fade, and with the remarkable advances made by begun and gone forward on a broad and generous organic chemists in elucidating the chemical structure of some of the complex compounds associated with basis, comparative as well as human, detached from, life a frame of mind arose which was convinced that and yet intimately connected with, technology, the real key to the riddle of the difference between furnishing food for the spirit as well as for the body. live and dead things lay in a knowledge of the chemistry There is every prospect that in its new home at ’of animate beings. The new impetus in inquiry Cambridge it will continue its comprehensive career of catholic interests. was appropriately celebrated by a fresh word and " " biochemistry came into being, definitely perhaps in this country by the establishment of the Biochemical Journal by BENJAMIN MOORE and Mr. E. WHITLEY in THE USE OF THE GALL-BLADDER. 1906. And in these last 20 years it has been everywhere one of the most active and productiveWHEN surgery becomes necessary in the treatment quantitatively if not always qualitatively-of the gall-bladder disease the question more frequently departments of natural knowledge. The dream that than not arises as to the advisability of removal of the it would quickly unlock the mystery of life has organ. Controversy on this subject has existed since birth of gall-stone surgery, yet even now a naturally not come true ; it has perhaps not made any progress in that direction, it has sometimes even completely satisfactory answer is not forthcoming. deflected the search into fruitless lines. Minute It is the old dilemma in which the surgeon is so often anatomists at one time felt sure that if only they placed. He is called upon to take some active could make the microscope magnify enough they measure in the treatment of a disease which has would see life itself going on. But if biochemists proved itself refractory to non-operative and microscopists have both failed to realise their yet knowledge of the physiology, let ideals, their energetic and enthusiastic pursuit of alone the pathology, of the organ with which he has them has led to immense progress in method and to deal is sadly wanting. Under these circumstances evolution of the treatment of gall-bladder disease knowledge.

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