Friday, May 29, 2015

History's first ever antibiotics injections were expected to be of pure synthetic penicillin

Back at the start of the 1940s, two highly skilled biochemists (Karl Meyer and Ernst Chain) both confidently expected to quickly synthesize artificial penicillin, as they knew natural penicillin was a relatively small biological molecule of only about 350 Daltons.

After 100 weeks of hearing this reoccurring promise of quick results from Chain, his imperious boss, Howard Florey, reluctantly decided to inject his first human patients in February 12th 1941 with still-impure natural penicillin.

Henry Dawson, normally the most diffident of men, changed his mind about waiting till  co-worker Meyer's synthetic penicillin arrived in January 1941, and after only five weeks into their joint penicillin efforts and without so much as a backward glance, injected his first patients with impure natural penicillin on October 16th 1940.

Why did Dawson uncharacteristically proceed to Plan B so very much quicker than Florey?

Partially it was because Dawson was so angry on his return to his medicine school from his vacation in September 1940 to discover that all American medicine was using the excuse of preparing for war medicine to drop their feeble efforts at social medicine aimed at improving the health care of the poor and the weak.

But it also seems from Dawson's own words that it was a civil rights activist and dying SBE patient, Aaron Leroy Alston from Harlem, whose angry eloquence on this neglect of the poor and minorities that so moved Dawson.

Moved him to defiantly thumb his nose at an uncharitable world by deliberately treating two 4F SBE patients with this historical first ever injected antibiotics, on the very day when all of the rest of America was focused only upon its 1A population ...

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