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My MSc in working out the chromosome complement of Elephantulus


The Nadi reaction
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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During my Honours year, I again expanded my interests into large parts of biology, because that's the one thing this... this enables one to do. But I had started to do things in… in cytochemistry, and, in fact, one of the interesting things was to do something which was called the Nadi reaction. Now, the Nadi reaction has, in recent years, come into favour as a measurement of the cytochrome oxidase system. But I can honestly say that I was the first person to discover that. It had been known as the Nadi reaction and it had measured some enzyme called… which was called indophenol oxidase, and what you did was you took these two components, diphenyl diamine, and you put it in and when you had this enzyme, it made this com… it made this blue dye, indophenol blue. And I did a set of experiments which actually proved that this was related to what had then been called... had then been called cytochrome oxidase. Because what I showed… it was mitochondria that gave you the Nadi reaction, all right? And… and I actually wrote a paper on this and published it as part of the annual meeting of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science in 1946, so it goes back a long way.

[Q] It wasn't your first; that was one of your later papers?

Yeah, that was the second... my second paper, yes.

South African Sydney Brenner (1927-2019) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. His joint discovery of messenger RNA, and, in more recent years, his development of gene cloning, sequencing and manipulation techniques along with his work for the Human Genome Project have led to his standing as a pioneer in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

Listeners: Lewis Wolpert

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He was originally trained as a civil engineer in South Africa but changed to research in cell biology at King's College, London in 1955. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has presented science on both radio and TV and for five years was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.



Listen to Lewis Wolpert at Web of Stories



Tags: South Africa Association for the Advancement of Science, S2A3

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 24 January 2008