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August 20, 1932


JAMA. 1932;99(8):656. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02740600048013

Possibly the reported successful crystallization of the etiologic factor of mosaic disease of tobacco may be regarded by future medical historians as one of the most important advances in infectious theory since the work of Lister and Pasteur. The announcement of the isolation of a crystallizable pathogenic enzyme necessarily throws doubt on the conception that poliomyelitis, smallpox and numerous other "ultramicroscopic infections" are of microbic causation. The apparent evidence that a specific protein, which in itself is incapable of self multiplication, may function as a disease germ when placed in "symbiosis" with normal cells seems to furnish experimental confirmation of several highly speculative theories relating to vitamins, hormones and progressive tissue degenerations.

The enzymic theory of the etiology of tobacco mosaic disease was suggested by Dr. A. F. Woods1 more than thirty years ago. Since then the enzyme concept has remained the dominant working hypothesis in the experimental pathology