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J R Soc Med. 2005 September; 98(9): 437.
PMCID: PMC1199654

Quartet of Unlikely Discoveries

In his review of Quartet of Unlikely Discoveries R I S Bayliss concludes that the Taits' achievements might have been more widely acknowledged ‘If only aldosterone had proved more significant in human physiology and had a more important role in human ill-health...’. In fact, aldosterone antagonists have lately entered a new era with the recognition that aldosterone has adverse effects on the heart and is involved in inflammation of the vasculature. Several clinical trials, which are referenced in the text of the book, have shown aldosterone antagonists both new and old to be remarkably effective. Moreover, studies from several centres have shown a substantial prevalence of primary aldosteronism among patients with ‘esssential hypertension’: the diagnostic assays are critical, but rates of 5% to 15% have been cited depending upon the patient watershed and other factors. All this is encapsulated in a recent scholarly review, ‘The new biology of aldosterone’, by J M Connell and Eleanor Davies, J Endocrinol 2005;186:1-20. There are factual errors in Bayliss's book review. The Taits did not contribute to all four fields but only aldosterone; James Tait did not work on DNA for his PhD; the Taits did not work on saturation analysis with Ekins. The book does acknowledge my help and encouragement.

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