Background: History of the Industry
Major breakthroughs occurred in the 1930's and 40's when researchers were finally learning how to purify individual proteins out of crude cell extracts. Biochemistry soon became a field dependent upon highly purified enzymes which in turn could be used to discover more enzymes and to determine the structure of each different kind of protein.
Biochemical research labs had two important tasks: learning more about proteins, and purifying proteins to expedite that research. As in all scientific endeavor, each lab published its findings so other labs could build on that knowledge. Consequently, a researcher in the 1940's who wished to study the structure of a particular protein would probably contact another research facility and ask them to send a sample of some of the highly purified enzymes its scientists had learned to crystallize. (Crystallized protein was thought to be a protein's purest form.)