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June 23, 1945


JAMA. 1945;128(8):594. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860250040011

During recent years Hill,1 Mason2 and others have isolated and identified certain skin irritants from poison ivy, poison oak and related plants. Keil3 has shown that these substances are phenols or catechols characterized by long unsaturated side chains attached to the phenolic ring. The toxic properties are in large part due to the presence of OH groups in this ring. On exposure to air a slow auto-oxidation of these toxic groups takes place. This has suggested that a logical method of preventing or treating poison ivy dermatitis would be by the use of strong oxidents such as ferric chloride and potassium permanganate.

In their search for a less irritating therapeutic agent, Sizer and Prokesch4 of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tested whether or not a similar oxidative detoxication can be effected by the use of enzymes. Since phenolic oxidases are not highly specific,5 Sizer selected