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Du Vigneaud, Vincent

sulphur biotin chemistry containing

doo veen yoh] (1901–78) US biochemist: researcher on sulphur-containing vitamins and hormones.

Originally a student of chemistry at Illinois, Du Vigneaud’s postgraduate work in the USA and in the UK became increasingly biochemical; from 1938 he was head of biochemistry in Cornell Medical School and his research became ‘a trail of sulphur research’. This began with studies on the hormone insulin in the 1920s. In the 1930s he worked on the sulphur-containing amino acid methionine and showed that its function is particularly to transfer methyl (-CH3 ) groups in biochemical reactions. In 1941 he isolated vitamin H from liver and showed that it was identical with the growth factor biotin, which had been isolated in 1936 by F Kögl (1897–1960) (1 mg from 250 kg of dried duck egg yolk). Du Vigneaud deduced the complete (and rather complex) structure of biotin in 1942. He next studied two pituitary hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, the first of which induces labour and milk flow. Both structures were determined, and in 1953 he synthesized oxytocin – the first synthesis of an active polypeptide hormone (it contains eight amino acids). For this work in particular he was awarded a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1955.

Dubois, Marie Eugène Francois Thomas [next] [back] du Pont, Éleuthère Irénée - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: Éleuthère Irénée du Pont

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