Pediatricians first described the clinical features of chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) in 1959. Almost a decade later, in a collaborative effort that crossed disciplines, we participated in the discoveries that defined the cellular deficiencies of CGD, specifically finding that improper degranulation of leukocytes did not explain their failure to fight pathogens, rather that the fundamental defect was due to problems in the unique NADPH oxidase system of phagocytizing leukocytes. In the years that followed, the subunit components and structure of NADPH oxidase and their translocation during leukocyte phagocytosis to form the active enzyme were well described, leading to the identification of the component genes, the mapping of their chromosomal locations, and their subsequent cloning. This remarkable progress has led to effective therapies, including bone marrow transplants and gene therapy, that would have been unimaginable when we began.
Robert L. Baehner, Morris J. Karnovsky
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