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September 26, 1959

Inborn Errors of Metabolism

JAMA. 1959;171(4):490-491. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010220114025

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It is 51 years since Sir Archibald Garrod coined the term "inborn errors of metabolism." In 1908 Sir Archibald was able to describe four inherited metabolic disorders: cystinuria, alkaptonuria, albinism, and pentosuria. Perhaps some measure of the advances that have been made in understanding the genetics and biochemistry of metabolic disorders is afforded by noting that the author is able to discuss 84 diseases under the same title in this monograph.

Progress in this area has reached the point where it has become difficult to define the borders of this field. Studies of chromosome structure and of the chemical composition of the genic material have led to the concept that all inherited characteristics must have a biochemical basis. Each gene probably represents a specific molecular configuration and must produce its effect, whether normal or abnormal, by initiating a chain of chemical reactions within the cell nucleus. In this broad view,

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