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Article
September 19, 1959

NEW CONCEPTS OF THE NATURE OF VIRUSES

JAMA. 1959;171(3):312. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010210064016

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Abstract

BACTERIOPHAGES (or viruses which infect bacteria) were discovered in 1915. They were used as therapeutic agents for various infectious diseases with discouraging results, and interest in them declined. Two decades ago investigations were initiated in which bacteriophages were used as a model aimed at the general question of how viruses multiply. The basic problems posed in these investigations were the mechanisms of inheritance of genetic information and of mutation and the forces involved in the control of growth and the determination of macromolecular structures. The experimental simplicity of the Escherichia coli bacteriophage system and the cooperative work of physicists and chemists as well as biologists has led to exciting progress and the formation of new concepts not only in virology but also in almost all aspects of biology and medicine.

One important new principle resulting from these studies is that there are two different patterns of host virus interaction which

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