Anselme Payen and the Birth of Biochemistry
In 1833, French scientists Anselme Payen and Jean-François Persoz, discovered the enzyme we call amylase, or diastase.
A diastase is one of a group of enzymes that brings about the breakdown of starch into maltose. The two men also isolated cellulose for the first time and gave it its name.
Payen became manager of a borax-refining factory when he was 23, and he soon invented a process for synthesizing borax from boric acid and soda. This broke the Dutch stranglehold on borax, which had to be imported from East Asia at the time.
Payen had many other inventions as well, including processes for sugar, starch and alcohol refining, a method for nitrogen determination and a decolorimeter, for analyzing and processing sugar.
Diastase enzymes cause the starch in beer mash to rapidly transform into soluble sugars, which greatly improves speed and ease of separation. Amylases can be extracted from many sources including plants, milk and saliva. The discovery of the enzyme is regarded as the beginning of the branch of biochemistry.