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Bruce Ames, identifier of mutation causing chemicals, lists his greatest discoveries

| | June 3, 2014

In an otherwise ordinary day in 1964, Bruce Ames picked up a box of potato chips and read the list of ingredients. A biochemist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, Ames spent his days studying mutations in strains of Salmonella, so it wasn’t unusual that he began to wonder if any of the preservatives or chemicals on that long list of ingredients might mutate DNA. Ames decided to use his Salmonella to try to detect genetic damage caused by chemicals. “I figured the world needed some quick, easy test to detect mutagens,” says Ames.

Ames’ greatest hits:

  • Created the Ames test, an assay to determine if a chemical is mutagenic.
  • Demonstrated that most carcinogens are mutagens.
  • Built a comprehensive database of carcinogen potency.
  • Showed that many nutrient deficiencies cause DNA damage and proposed the triage theory as a mechanism by which this occurs.
  • Developed a nutrient-rich fruit bar designed to improve metabolism and prevent age-related disease.
  • Uncovered a mechanism linking vitamin D–deficiency to serotonin synthesis, autism, and brain dysfunction.

 

Read the full, original story: Mutagens and Multivitamins

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