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The Fight Against Infectious Disease

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1 The Fight Against Infectious Disease
By Mr Day Downloaded from

2 Lesson Objectives To learn about the development of magic bullets.
To understand the impact that the discovery of penicillin had on medicine. Understand the contribution of Ehrlich, Domargk , Fleming, Florey and Chain.

3 Situation at the turn of the Century
Germs that cause diseases had been discovered. A number of vaccines had been discovered. Clean water and sewers cutting disease still further. Vaccines prevented disease. Hunt was now on for cures.

4 Paul Ehrlich Worked on Koch’s research team.
Interested in antibodies that the body produces. Antibodies kill specific germs but don’t damage other parts of the body or tissue. Ehrlich called these antibodies magic bullets. He began to try and produce a synthetic magic bullet that would kill specific bacteria.

5 Search for a Magic Bullet
Ehrlich set up his own research institute and began looking for a magic bullet to beat syphilis. He used chemical compounds of arsenic but met with little success. He produced 605 variations without any luck and dismissed variation 606 as well. A research assistant re-tested 606 and found it worked! One of the most important discoveries that we have yet studied was nearly thrown away.

6 Magic Bullet One: Salversan.
The first ever magic bullet. A massive development in the history of medicine. Chemical compound had been used to destroy bacteria. Not the best though. It did kill bacteria but sometimes killed the patient as well! Doh!

7 Magic Bullet Two: Prontosil
In 1932 Gerhardt Domargk began experimenting with Prontosil. Test results on mice were not good. They kept dieing of blood poisoning. Domargk’s daughter picked up a severe infection when stabbed by a rusty needle. She was close to death and so Domargk decided to risk it and use Prontosil on her. She recovered.

8 Discovery of Penicillin
Penicillin is an antibiotic. An antibiotic is a drug derived from living organisms that would kill bacteria. Penicillin occurs naturally. You can find it on cheese and on mouldy fruit. Many scientists examined penicillin but none appeared to realise its potential…

9 Alexander Fleming Worked as a doctor during World War I and was used to dealing with serious wounds. Was frustrated by an inability to prevent infection in deep wounds. Made it his mission to find a substance that would kill microbes. In 1928 when experimenting with germs in a lab one day he noticed that no germs grew near a lump of mould that developed on one of the dishes. He had stumbled across Penicillin.

10 Example of Deep Infection

11 Penicillin Mould

12 Further Progress Fleming discovered that Penicillin could stop the most deadly of germs. He needed to find a way of turning it into a drug so it could be used to treat humans. Unbelievably he could not secure the money from the British government or anywhere else for further research. In 1931 he stopped his work on Penicillin.

13 Howard Florey and Ernst Chain
In 1938 Howard Florey read Flemings research articles on Penicillin. Florey and his partner Ernst Chain decided to investigate. They succeeded in making small quantities of Penicillin in powder form. On 25th May mice were injected with the streptococci bacteria. Four were also given regular doses of penicillin. The mice that had no antibiotics died within 16 hours. History had been made.

14 Task New book: p.97 sources U and V. Old book: p.92 sources Q and R.
What is the Fleming Myth? How did it come into existence? Who do you think deserves the credit for penicillin: Fleming or Florey and Chain?

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