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November 19, 1932


JAMA. 1932;99(21):1783. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02740730047015

For a decade, clinicians have been familiar with the "bacteriophage" pictured as a living parasite, a submicrobe preying on pathogenic bacteria. The accumulating experimental evidence in support of the nonvital nature of this "lytic unit" seems to have been largely ignored.

A clear presentation of the nonvital hypothesis is contained in a summary of research on bacteriophage in the Biochemical Institute, Moscow. Jermoljewa, Bujanowskaja and Severin1 state that by certain ultrafiltration methods the specific lytic component in bacteriophage-lysed cultures can be separated quantitatively from the bacterial proteins and this separation may be shown both chemically and by negative specific antibody production in rabbits. The Russian biochemists thus agree with most American investigators that the size and complexity of the bacteriophage unit is less than that of the average protein molecule. The Russian chemists state further that normal bacterial cells can be hyperoxidized by the use of peroxidase plus hydrogen

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