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September 1958

Neurochemistry and Therapeutic Endeavor

Author Affiliations

London, England

From the Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Psychiatry (British Postgraduate Medical Federation, University of London), Maudsley Hospital.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;80(3):292-297. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340090028003

Application of chemistry to problems concerning the nervous system has now been in progress for over two centuries. This account brings together, briefly, three very different types of study which have contributed to this application.

Chemical Composition  The first chemical studies of the nervous system were of its composition and had no very immediate application in therapy. Through the investigations of Hensing, John, Gmelin, and Lassaigne can be traced the gradual growth of knowledge of, first, the inorganic and then the organic constituents of nerve tissues during the 18th and the early 19th century. Vauquelin,1 working about 1810, is noteworthy for his thorough attempt to account quantitatively for cerebral constituents by separating them into fractions in a way which retained all his material, so that he could present a balance sheet adding to 100%; he made systematic use of an organic solvent (ethanol) and a heavy metal precipitant (lead