Interviewer: Well, what are the broader implications of this concept of yours of molecular disease? Do you envisage, for example, a kind
of new medicine which will be based more fundamentally on chemotherapy for example?
Linus Pauling: Yes, I would say so. I think that we shall be able to get a more thorough understanding of the nature of disease in general
by investigating the molecules that make up the human body including the abnormal molecules, and that this understanding will
permit disease to be attacked - the problem of disease to be attacked - in a more straight-forward manner, such that new methods
of therapy will be developed.
For example, we are working now on a disease called phenylketonuria. Phenylketonuria is a disease that involves a bad gene.
Normal human beings have inherited two genes from their parents that manufacture an enzyme - a special protein in the liver
that catalyzes the oxidation of an amino acid, phenylalanine, to form another amino acid, tyrosine. Now, we ingest, we eat
food containing phenylalanine all the time. An ordinary protein is about five-percent phenylalanine. So that everybody gets
a lot of phenylalanine into his body by way of eating protein. He has to eat protein to build up his body. This phenylalanine
is in large part converted into another substance by the action of the enzyme in the liver.
One person in eighty has only one good gene for this enzyme and then he has one bad gene, the result of a genetic mutation.
A bad gene that will not manufacture a good enzyme. These people - we have been studying the activity of the liver of these
people. We give them some phenylalanine, and then we take a sample of blood and determine what has happened to that phenylalanine
in the course of one or two or three hours, and we find that normal individuals are able to destroy, to change the phenylalanine
to tyrosine twice as fast as these people, one in eighty, who are the carriers of one bad gene.