Antoine Béchamp

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Antoine Béchamp


Antoine Béchamp


October 16, 1816(1816-10-16)
Bassing, Moselle, France


April 15, 1908 (aged 91)
Paris, France





Known for

Identifying parasites in silkworm diseases


Louis Pasteur


Wilhelm Reich, Gaston Naessens, Alan Cantwell

Pierre Jacques Antoine Béchamp was a French biologist. He studied silkworm parasites, and was the first to synthesise Atoxyl.



[edit] Biography

Béchamp was born on October 16, 1816 in Bassing, a small village in the Moselle region of France. He died on April 15, 1908 in Paris.

[edit] Contribution to science

Béchamp worked on silkworm diseases, identifying one as due to a parasite — a separate, smaller organism which entered the body from outside, in this case causing disease. However in a period when considerable scientific interest and effort was applied to this problem, his more complex and thorough understanding of the interaction between colloidal lifeforms and their role in disease as is generally accepted today did not have mass audience appeal like that of Pasteur.[1]

He was a contemporary of Louis Pasteur, who developed the currently accepted germ theory, and of Robert Koch whose postulates are the basis of deciding whether a microbe is the cause of a disease. Bechamp however maintained the abandoned pleomorphic theory — essentially that bacteria change form and are not the cause of, but the result of, disease, arising from tissues rather than from a germ of constant form. This has also been called the cellular disease theory, in that scavenging bacteria are supposed to arise from what he called microzymas. "Micro" meaning small and "zymas" referring to a special class of immortal enzymes. He postulated these microzymas to be normally present in matter (including tissues)and that they had either a life or death giving quality depending on the cellular terrain.

His theory was discarded by science in favor of Pasteur's repeatable demonstrations. Other pleomorphists since then are Wilhelm Reich, Gaston Naessens, Alan Cantwell[citation needed], Günther Enderlein (1872-1968) and Robert Young (author).

Atoxyl was first synthesized in 1859 by Antoine Béchamp by chemically reacting aniline and arsenic acid. Béchamp chose the name Atoxyl referring to the reduced toxicity of the resulting compound, compared to arsenic. In 1908, Paul Ehrlich and Sahachiro Hata used Atoxyl as the basis for their discovery of Salvarsan.

Some science historians[2] suggest that Eduard Buchner, in his 1897 work, merely repeated experiments already made by Béchamp in 1857. This is not the case : what Buchner obtained with yeast "zymase", and without yeast cells, was alcoholic fermentation, while Béchamp had explicitly stated that, in these circumstances, he only obtained sugar inversion, and no alcoholic fermentation[3].

[edit] Contribution to industry

At the time of mauveine's discovery, aniline was an expensive laboratory compound, but it was soon prepared "by the ton" using a process previously discovered by Antoine Béchamp.[4]

[edit] Academic Record

[edit] Publications of Bechamp and Pasteur published on "Comptes rendus de l'académie des sciences"

Publications of papers on silkworm diseases can be downloaded free on the French site of The "Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences"[5]

[edit] Publications with mention of Béchamp

[edit] Books of Antoine Béchamp

Readers who to want read Béchamp's books should see the bibliography in the book of Marie Nonclercq, Antoine Béchamp, l'homme et le savant.

[edit] Books in English mentioning Antoine Béchamp

[edit] Books in French mentioning Antoine Béchamp

[edit] References

  1. ^ Béchamp, Les microzymas, éd. Centre international d’études A. Béchamp (1990, reedition of book published in 1883), p. 757.
  2. ^ " Our textbooks, however, erroneously tell us that Buchner was the first to extract an enzyme from yeast, and call it zymase, a 'breakthrough' that was achieved in 1897, some 35 years after Bechamp's experiments ! " (Milton Wainwright, " Early history of microbiolgy ", Advances in applied microbiology, vol. 52, 2003, pp. 333-355, partly available on Google Books, esp. pp. 341-342.)
  3. ^ Antoine Béchamp, Les microzymas, Paris, 1883 (repr. Paris, 1990), pp. 286-288
  4. ^ Perkin, William Henry. 1861-06-08. "Proceedings of Checmical Societies: Chemical Society, Thursday, May 16, 1861." The Chemical News and Journal of Industrial Science. Retrieved on 2007-09-24.
  5. ^ Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences.

[edit] External links

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_B%C3%A9champ"

Categories: 1816 births | 1908 deaths | French biologists

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