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The most important medicines

The most important medicines

People have long learned to find and create medicines for various diseases. Pharmacists have gone much further today.

They have already created over 200 thousand different drugs. We can safely say that the world has changed thanks to these drugs.

Opium. Pain is one of the main enemies of man. It can be simply unbearable to carry it. So scientists and doctors were looking for a remedy that can defeat pain. Opium was the first such known and widely used medicine. The fact that the hypnotic poppy has useful properties was known by the healers of ancient Greece, Rome, China and India. They dried the juice from the unripe heads of this plant. The resulting opium tincture helped relieve pain. And in 1806, the pharmacist Friedrich Sertürner was able to isolate white crystals from opium alkaloids. They were called morphine. This name is directly related to Morpheus, the god of dreams.

The medical emergence of morphine, together with the syringe invented in 1853, gave new impetus to the battle against pain. However, everything turned out to be not so simple - both opium and morphine are addictive. Physicians were forced to look for an equally effective alternative that would not cause addiction. In 1874, scientists were able to synthesize heroin from opium. He turned out to have even stronger pain relieving capabilities than morphine. The new drug was sold freely in pharmacies until 1910. When heroin was proven to be an even more terrible drug, it was quickly removed from the shelves.

Today it is known that opium became the ancestor of all analgesics with narcotic properties. Half a century ago, scientists were able to synthesize from it phenadone, promedol, fentanyl, deprivan, butorphan, tramadol and other drugs. Some opium alkaloids have also been isolated. Codeine helps fight coughs, and papaverine is an excellent vasodilator. However, almost all opium-based substances are included in the drug lists. Their storage and sale is under the strictest supervision of the relevant authorities.

Smallpox vaccine. They say that this disease appeared 3 thousand years ago in Egypt and India. For many centuries, smallpox was one of the main enemies of civilization. Terrible epidemics mowed down entire cities and countries. The fight against smallpox ended with a human victory in 1980. Then the WHO officially announced that the disease was completely eradicated in all developed countries of the Earth. This was due to the general vaccination of the population.

For the first time, the method of vaccination was developed by Edward Jenner, a doctor from England. The first vaccination took place on May 14, 1796. Then Jenner was able to inoculate eight-year-old James Phipps with lymph from the hand of peasant Sarah Nelms, who fell ill with cowpox. A month and a half later, the doctor injected the boy with the lymph of another patient with smallpox. After the vaccinations, the boy remained healthy.

This experiment was repeated 23 times. In 1798 Jenner published the results of his work in the article "Investigation of the causes and effects of vaccinia." In the same year, vaccination was introduced in the Navy and the Army of England. Although Napoleon was at that time at war with England, he ordered a gold medal cast in honor of the doctor's discovery. In 1805, the emperor introduced vaccination in France.

Jenner's discovery led to the rapid emergence of vaccinations against other diseases - hepatitis, whooping cough, diphtheria, rubella, tetanus ... More recently, in 2007, the first cancer vaccine was created in America. This agent is intended to prevent cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus.

Ether. Back in 1525, the alchemist and physician Paracelsus revealed the narcotic effect of sulfur ether. But before its use as an anesthetic, it was still very far away. The discovery of this property of the ether was made by accident in 1797 by the English chemist Humphry Davy. When the scientist conducted experiments with gas, he suddenly discovered that it causes pleasant sensations, improving mood. The chemist called the ether "laughing gas". These properties interested Davy, and he proposed using ether in surgery. But the idea was forgotten for half a century.

In 1818, another Englishman, Michael Faraday, worked with ether. In his work, he described the effect on himself of soporific gas vapors. But even this work remained incomprehensible for a long time. Practical anesthesia came to medicine much later. In 1844, American dentist Horace Wells decided to have his own tooth removed. He turned to his colleague for help. Wells inhaled laughing gas for courage, and the operation was fairly painless. Overjoyed, the dentist went to Boston. There he persuaded his colleague William Morton to pay attention to a new remedy. Doctors even staged a public demonstration of their method of anesthesia in January 1845. But the show turned out to be a fiasco, Welles simply laughed at his colleagues.

But this idea sunk into the soul of chemist and physician Charles Jackson. He once trained Morton and knew his abilities. An experienced mentor shared with the student his thoughts on how best to use sulfuric ether for anesthesia. This was the first step on the path of many years of cooperation and enmity. The ambitious Morton stubbornly set about experiments with the ether, he did it secretly from everyone. The doctor came up with a special apparatus, which is a bottle with a flexible tube. It was intended for better ether evaporation. Morton conducted his experiments on himself, convinced of the effectiveness of the remedy. On September 30, 1846, Eben Frost became the first patient to have a tooth removed with ether.

News of the dentist's success reached John Warren, chief physician at a hospital in Boston. He invited Morton to become his assistant to help him during the operation. It took place on October 16, 1846 in the clinical ward of Boston City Hospital. Many doctors, students and just onlookers gathered to look at the new tool. They all watched the world's first public surgery involving an anesthesiologist. Morton's apparatus was used to process 25-year-old printer Gilbert Abbott. Thanks to ether, Warren was able to safely remove the tumor on the patient's neck. When the operation was over, the surgeon said: "Dear colleagues! This is not a hoax at all!" Thus, the date of this operation was officially considered the birthday of the current anesthesiology.

Today, with general anesthesia, other, more modern drugs and complex devices are used. However, the very general principle of immersion in chemical sleep has remained exactly the same for one hundred and fifty years. And all attempts to create anesthesia using other principles have not met with success.

Cocaine. This substance has long been an integral part of many local anesthetics. We are talking about lidocaine, novocaine, dicaine, trimecaine and others. Today it is impossible to imagine dentistry, neurology, plastic surgery, gynecology or traumatology without them, as well as a number of other medical fields.

The conquistadors who conquered South America first learned about cocaine. Then the knowledge of the "magic" substance was confirmed by researchers and travelers. They all observed the local people chewing on the leaves of the coca plant. This helped the Indians to endure pain, hunger and fatigue. In 1860, chemist Albert Niemann was able to figure out what the mystery lies in these leaves. The German identified their main active ingredient - the alkaloid cocaine. But Niemann passed away and never had time to finish his work. Another chemist, Wilhelm Lossen, continued his research and managed to get cocaine in its purest form.

Around those times, the well-known experiments with cocaine were carried out by the still young Sigmund Freud. The Viennese neuropathologist was yet to become the father of modern psychoanalysis. Freud put a handful of cocaine on his tongue and noted that this place was losing sensitivity. Sigmund wrote about his experiments with the substance in one of his works. But then the observations did not lead to practical conclusions. But even then they could have discovered cocaine for medicine.

This discovery was made already in 1879 by the pharmacologist Vasily Anrep. This professor from St. Petersburg conducted extensive research on cocaine, suggesting the use of the substance for local anesthesia. After 5 years, the properties of cocaine were studied by the Viennese ophthalmologist Karl Koller. He received information about the unusual abilities of the substance from Freud, because he had already conducted experiments. Koller also decided to do research on himself. He moistened his mucous membranes in his mouth and eyes with a solution of cocaine. The conclusions were the same - these places are losing their sensitivity. Then the optometrist realized that this solution could be used for anesthesia. The last and most important on the path of converting cocaine into medicine was the work of the German surgeon Karl Schleich. In 1890, he went through a lot of experiments and was able to create a permanent pain reliever. Cocaine was added to a 0.05% solution of common sodium chloride. This product was ready to use, it is important that it could be stored for a long time in vials.

When general anesthetics and local anesthetics became firmly established in medicine, it was the end of the battle against human pain. And all the discoveries made later became only an improvement and addition to these. Only now doctors have always been confused by the toxicity of cocaine. Therefore, an important step in the development of anesthesia was the receipt of the drug novocaine in 1905. Alfred Einhorn was able to synthesize it. This drug is 16 times safer than cocaine. It is not surprising that novocaine was quickly recognized by specialists. Moreover, its analgesic power remained the same. Today, the descendant of cocaine, novocaine, can be found in any dentist's office.

Aspirin. And in this case, people have long discovered the valuable qualities of willow bark. It saves well from fever. These qualities are explained by the fact that the bark contains salts of salicylic acid. In its pure form, it was isolated in 1897 by the German chemist Felix Hoffmann. It happened in the laboratory of the Bayer chemical enterprise. Hoffman was looking for a drug that would relieve his father's joint pain. And aspirin was introduced into the circulation of doctors by Dr. Hermann Dresser, who was friends with Hoffman. The new drug quickly proved effective. Already on March 6, 1899, he was issued a state patent under the number "36433", in which the name "aspirin" was spelled out. Today, according to WHO statistics, aspirin and its analogues are the most popular drugs. More than 80 billion aspirin tablets are consumed worldwide every year. This medicine has anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic effects.

Vitamins. At the end of the 19th century, the generally accepted view was that proteins, fats, carbohydrates, water and mineral salts give food their nutritional value. Decades have passed, and humanity has gained invaluable experience of long sea voyages. It turned out that even sufficient food supplies do not save sailors from scurvy and various infectious diseases. For a long time they could not find an answer to this riddle.

Only in 1880 did the Russian scientist Nikolai Lunin come to interesting conclusions. He studied how minerals are involved in nutrition. It turned out that mice that ate artificial food made from the constituents of milk (sugar, fat, salt and casein) quickly wither and die. And those rodents who received natural milk continued to lead an active life. The scientist's conclusion was logical - there are certain substances in milk that are needed for good nutrition.

After 16 years, the cause of beriberi disease was found, common among the inhabitants of Korea, Japan and Indonesia. They ate refined rice. And the Dutch doctor Christian Eikman was accidentally able to solve the riddle of the beriberi. He works at a prison hospital in Java and has overseen local chickens. Those birds fed with refined grain vomited with something similar to beriberi. But when the chickens began to feed on unrefined grain, the disease quickly passed.

In 1911, the crystalline vitamin was isolated by the Polish physicist Kazimierz Funk. For this he used rice hulls. A number of experiments have shown that it is possible to avoid chicken disease with the help of a nitrogen-containing amine substance. It is called vitamin B1. A year later, the scientist came up with a common name for such substances - vitamins. This word is composed of two Latin words meaning "life" and "nitrogen".

Today, about vitamins are known. Some of them are part of enzymes, like water-soluble vitamins of groups C, B, PP). Others are part of cell membranes, like fat-soluble carotenes, vitamins A, D, E. But they are all important participants in human life. Vitamins help to overcome rickets, scurvy, hypovitaminosis. With their help, the prevention of many diseases is carried out. Vitamins help people recover from severe ailments and surgery.

Salvarsan. A century ago, almost all medicines were created from those chemicals that could be found in nature. By and large, these were all the same folk remedies, simply cleaned and cataloged. And with the development of synthetic chemistry, it became possible to create new substances that would purposefully fight against cancer cells or pathogens of infectious diseases.

The Austrian doctor Paul Ehrlich, together with Mechnikov, received the Nobel Prize for research on immunity. This doctor also became famous for finding a drug for the treatment of syphilis. Salvarsan proved to be so effective that it quickly spread throughout the world. This is how the first medicine was created specially designed to treat a specific problem. Ehrlich dreamed that there would be funds that, like a magic bullet, would infect only specific pathogens. And for the body as a whole, such drugs will be harmless. The doctor was very patient, only the 606th substance he synthesized turned out to be the very thing that saves from syphilis.

This was the first step towards the emergence of chemotherapy. Today, people are increasingly being treated with drugs specifically designed to combat a specific disease. After salvarsan, humanity has created thousands of new drugs based on the same principles. Now 9 out of 10 drugs on the shelves of pharmacies or used in hospitals are of artificial origin.

Insulin. Today about 10-15 million people have a disappointing diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. However, mankind has found a solution for them in the form of insulin injections, they have to be done all their lives. If not for this medicine, then these people would not be able to survive.

It all started in 1920. Then the Canadian scientists, physiologist Banting and physician Best, spent three months obtaining insulin from a piece of tissue from the dog's pancreas. By the end of the next year, the technology was improved. Insulin was now extracted from the extract of the pancreas of unborn calves. In January 1922, the first insulin treatment in clinical practice took place. An almost hopeless 14-year-old with severe diabetes was rescued.

Further testing of the new drug led to the development of basic recommendations for its use and dosage.At the end of 1922, insulin was already on the drug market. The patent for this drug was sold to the University of Toronto for only $ 1. Thanks to this, insulin could soon begin to be produced already on an industrial scale.

The discovery became so important that in 1923 Frederick Bunting and John MacLeod, the owner of that laboratory, received the Nobel Prize. However, insulin brought another such prize. In 1958, the Englishman Frederick Sanger received it for describing the amino acid sequence of this drug. The hormone that Bunting discovered has become a powerful weapon in the fight against diabetes. This is a medicine that is significant for mankind, without a doubt, saved millions of lives. Until now, many diabetics cannot live without insulin.

Penicillin. People have long learned that green mold can successfully resist germs. Even 500 years ago, this remedy was used by doctors to treat festering wounds. The Italian doctor Gozio has been involved in the isolation of antibiotics for a long time. However, the results of his work at the end of the 19th century remained unknown. The discovery of penicillin happened by accident. In 1929, Alexander Petri, a professor of microbiology at the University of London, forgot to wash the Petri dish after another experiment. There remained a bacterial culture that he did not need.

A few days later, the scientist saw a colony of green mold there and studied it. It turned out that it secretes a special antibiotic substance. When introduced into the nutrient medium, it slows down the growth of bacteria. The Fleming's new miracle cure was named penicillin. The name was directly related to the drug-producing mold. After all, it belongs to the fungi of the genus Penicillium. The scientist found that the substance he found was fortunate to have an effect on harmful microbes. But for leukocytes and other cells, penicillin is absolutely safe.

Fleming described his discovery in a scientific journal, and soon the scientist was able to isolate penicillin in its pure form. But then the matter stalled, because it was not possible to isolate a stable form of a substance that would be suitable for practical use. This problem was solved in 1940. A group of young scientists from Oxford led by Howard Flory and Ernst Cheney created penicillin in a stable form. For this, in 1944, these scientists, together with Fleming, received the knighthood and the title of baron from the Queen of England. And the following year, the trio won the Nobel Prize for their discovery.

Antibiotics have become a real breakthrough in medicine. The first of these was penicillin. This discovery marked the beginning of a new era in the history of medicine. Today, pharmacologists have created dozens of new antibiotics that fight many infections. In medicine, there is simply no alternative to such effective remedies.

Enovid. Contraception issues have always been acute for humanity. We can safely say that the world has changed imperceptibly for many when the first oral contraceptives appeared. And in this case, people have known for a long time about the ability of hormones to stop ovulation. Back in the mid-20s of the last century, the Austrian biologist Ludwig Haberlandt discovered that after taking the ovarian extract, rats stop reproducing.

In 1931, the scientist suggested using hormones for people, preventing unwanted pregnancies. Just for a year, pharmacists from Gedeon Richter prepared an extract called Infecundin. However, the unexpected death of the Austrian discoverer, and the Second World War, prevented the product testing from ending.

When peace came, scientists returned to this important research. But it turned out that the infectionundin created by the Austrians was quite expensive. In 1944, it was replaced by a cheaper, artificially synthesized progesterone. On the basis of these discoveries, 10 years later, the American biologist Gregory Pincus created the first contraceptive pill. This project cost $ 3 million, which at that time was an impressive amount.

These miracle pills have been on sale since 1960 under the name "enovid". In the first 4 years of sales, the drug brought in $ 24 million, but the creators of the funds did not get any profit. To date, oral contraceptives have solved the problem of unwanted pregnancy. As a result, infant mortality and the number of gynecological diseases have significantly decreased. It is safe to say that humanity has entered a new era - the desired children.

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