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Enzymes: A Discovery and its Consequences

Nature volume 131, pages 535537 (15 April 1933) | Download Citation



IT is a hundred years since Payen and Persoz discovered diastase and recognised it as a ferment. To-day the ferments, or enzymes as we have preferred to call them, are in the forefront of interest as the factors concerned in all those chemical changes in the cell which in their totality are termed vital changes: they may indeed com pose those invisible genes which make up the chromosomes. The discovery of diastase, apart from its broader consequences, has had a far-reaching effect also in introducing science into one of the oldest industries, one already established on the Nile in the days of the Egyptians, that of brewing: the determination of diastatic power is to-day one of the first exercises which is performed on the new season's crop of barley and malt. The studies on diastase made in the cause of brewing have in turn enriched chemical science, and there is a notable list of eminent brewers' chemists to inscribe on the roll of honour of enzyme pioneers.

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