Article ID: CBB767216644

Irwin B. Wilson (1921-2013): The Story of the First Rational Design of a Drug (2022)


This article is based upon a lecture that Irwin Wilson (Figure 1) gave for his 75th birthday on September 18, 1996. (His actual date of birth was May 8, 1921.) The lecture covered his early work on how acetylcholinesterase catalyzes the hydrolysis of acetylcholine. This led to his demonstration of the formation of a covalent acetyl-enzyme intermediate in the reaction. It should be noted that this was in the days before it was understood that an enzyme could catalyze a chemical reaction by forming a covalent intermediate. Further studies on the mechanism of acetylcholinesterase in his laboratory at Columbia University in 1956 gave rise to the rational design of Pralidoxime (2-pyridine aldoxime methyl chloride; 2-PAM) as a reactivator of the organophosphate-inhibited enzyme.

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Authors & Contributors
Huentelmann, Axel C.
Bensaude-Vincent, Bernadette
Bertomeu Sánchez, José Ramón
Blanc, Floriane
Bonah, Christian
Carpenter, Elise Audrey
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
History and Technology
Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
History of Science
University of Pennsylvania
McGill-Queen's University Press
University of Chicago Press
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Chemical drugs
Pharmaceutical industry
Science education and teaching
Ehrlich, Paul
Abel, John Jacob
Beguin, Jean
Griffis, William Elliot
La Brosse, Guy de
Thénard, Louis Jacques
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
17th century
United States
Paris (France)
Collège de France, Paris
University of Michigan
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris
World Health Organization (WHO)
Paris. Jardin Royal des Plantes
Columbia University

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