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Pathological implications: Osteoclasts and osteoblasts


'Suicide bags': Lysosomes in pathology
Christian de Duve Scientist
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So I would say that, even though there was nothing very original in the discovery of lysosomes, it did lead to a large number of different studies dealing with all kinds of different specialised functions by specialised cells. And I would say this became evident very quickly, and so in 1963, which is only eight years after the word came out, there was a big meeting at Ciba Foundation in what was at the time... the Ciba Foundation in London where a number of experts got together, and I still... when I read that book I still see how quickly this field had developed in... in just a few years. Another aspect of lysosomes that engaged our attention very early was their involvement in pathology, in cell injury, and the first thing that came to my mind was that if in the cell the membrane that surrounds these little pockets would become injured, for one reason or another, then those highly caustic juices that are inside the lysosome, acid plus all those enzymes, would be discharged into the cell and cause tremendous damage, and so I even called them suicide bags, which was an unfortunate name, because some people decided that I believed that to be their function. No: function of lysosomes mostly is not to help the cells to commit suicide, but they could have become involved in injuries that were caused by... the injuries to the membranes inside the cells.

Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve (1917-2013) was best known for his work on understanding and categorising subcellular organelles. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 for his joint discovery of lysosomes, the subcellular organelles that digest macromolecules and deal with ingested bacteria.

Listeners: Peter Newmark

Peter Newmark has recently retired as Editorial Director of BioMed Central Ltd, the Open Access journal publisher. He obtained a D. Phil. from Oxford University and was originally a research biochemist at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School in London, but left research to become Biology Editor and then Deputy Editor of the journal Nature. He then became Managing Director of Current Biology Ltd, where he started a series of Current Opinion journals, and was founding Editor of the journal Current Biology. Subsequently he was Editorial Director for Elsevier Science London, before joining BioMed Central Ltd.

Tags: 1963, Ciba Foundation

Duration: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008