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November 11, 1933


JAMA. 1933;101(20):1564-1565. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740450038013

The present year represents the centenary of the discovery of diastase, an incident of great importance for the biologic sciences and not without considerable significance for medicine. In 1830, Dubrunfaut prepared an extract of malt that converted starch into sugar just as since early in the nineteenth century strong acids were known to do. His paper was really the first account of the action of an enzyme in solution.1 Three years later, in 1833, Payen and Persoz2 precipitated by alcohol from such extracts a substance that could be dried and preserved and that had a powerful action on starch. This they called "diastase." The term has continued in use in France almost to the present time as synonymous for the substances more commonly designated today as enzymes. Of course, the production of sugar in the process of malting was known before 1833; but the modern scientific history of