Membrane Biochemistry By Edith Sim, and: Dynamics of Biological Membranes: Influence on Synthesis, Structure and Function By Miles D. Houslan and Keith K. Stanley (review)
- Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 27, Number 2, Winter 1984
- pp. 317-319
- Additional Information
velopments of the technique for improving the concentration of the insulin extract was invaluable but was probably regarded by the Nobel Committee as a technological refinement. Perhaps this was an unjust decision. Macleod was die guiding professor. Although the original idea was not his, he contributed important guidance and was, in fact, die only scholar in the entire group who knew a great deal about carbohydrate metabolism. The many details of the intense work and the working relations of the foursome—Banting, Best, Collip and Macleod—during 1921 and 1922 uncovered the fact that, in terms of certain personal qualities, our heroes did indeed have clay feet. Apparently the rivalries for credit became bitter and, in retrospect, since there was enough honor to be passed around, inexcusable. Banting was jealous of his own great ideas and accomplishment and wanted credit for this. His driving zeal apparently annoyed some ofthe others. After all, he was not a sophisticated scientist. Perhaps Bliss decided that the description of the quibbling and arguing of the principal participants made diem real people; to this reviewer, much of this was uninteresting. One thing was clear and admirable . There was no rivalry for financial gain; none was sought, and diere was none except, appropriately, for the University ofToronto. The few stories ofthe effects of insulin in patients starving to deadi to live longer on Allen's starvation diet are poignant and require no literary embellishment. Excerpts from die very articulate letters of Elizabeth Hughes, a 15-year-old daughter of Charles Evans Hughes, are remarkable. It does appear that Bliss as a nonphysician was unaware of the great courage required of a physician in making die decision to administer the crude pancreatic extract to patients for the first time. This is certainly an interesting aspect of the story in the light of today's necessity for protocol review by peers and outsiders before proceeding with clinical investigative programs. The Dwovery of Insulin deserves wide readership. The excitement of one of medical science's greatest advances could not be suppressed by this radier pedantic presentation. For physicians and interested laymen and perhaps particularly young people considering a career in biology and medicine, Bliss has provided an important historical document. Richard L. Landau Department of Medicine University of Chicago Membrane Btochermstry. By Edith Sim. London: Chapman & Hall, 1982. Pp. 80. $6.50 (paper). Dynamics ofBiological Membranes: Influence on Synthesis, Structure and Function. By Miles D. Houslan and Keith K. Stanley. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1982. Pp. 330. $54.95. The researcher who wishes to keep up with the rapid developments in the field ofbiological membranes has available to him many original articles and scholarly reviews. However, these are generally narrowly focused and require that the Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 27, 2 ¦ Winter 1984 | 317 reader have an in-depth knowledge ofdie specialized areas under discussion. As a consequence, such accounts are of lesser value to diose beginning dieir investigative career or to students who will find textbooks too scanty in details and up-to-date information. The filling ofthis information gap is not easily achieved and, in fact, represents a challenge. In this context, two recent books, one by E. Sim (Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University) on membrane biochemistry and the other by M. D. Houslan (Department of Biochemistry, University of Manchester) and K. K. Stanley (European Molecular Biology Laboratory , Heidelberg), with emphasis on membrane dynamics, attempt to meet this challenge each in its own way. Sim's account, which is in the form of a guidebook, attempts to put together conceptual and practical information on membrane biochemistry. Remarkably concise and informative, this monograph is aimed at those desiring to gain a general overview ofdie diverse structural expressions and functions ofbiological membranes. One soon finds that the early concepts favoring the universality of membrane structure (i.e., lipid bilayer and fluid mosaic models) have now been challenged by new developments pointing to the occurrence of numerous variations on a unifying structural theme. These variations are likely to be a reflection of the multiple functions which biomembranes possess. The basic information is presented with objectivity and clarity, although it is perhaps too condensed in some areas. This potential deficiency is offset...