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April 14, 1945


JAMA. 1945;127(15):990-991. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860150034009

Early in this century, with the advent of physics and chemistry as tools in biologic research, the mechanisms of many vital equilibriums became better understood. Thus, in connection with the chemistry of respiration it was learned that a large proportion of the carbon dioxide is carried by the blood in the form of bicarbonate. However, it was shown later that less than 2 per cent of the carbon dioxide evolved from the blood in the lungs could come from the uncatalyzed decomposition of bicarbonate; a search was then made for a factor promoting this remarkably efficient reaction. In 1932 Meldrum and Roughton1 discovered an enzyme in the erythrocyte whose function is to expedite the decomposition of bicarbonate to carbon dioxide and water and also to reverse this reaction under favorable conditions. This catalyst, which was named carbonic anhydrase, is a protein, containing zinc in the molecule, showing optimal activity