Medicine in the 20th and 21st Century - c.1900 to present day

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Knowledge of the causes of disease

- Germ theory and identification of bacteria led to new vaccines: TB, 1906, Diptheria, 1913.
- Magic bullet = a chemical that cures a disease without harming a patient.

First magic bullet: Salvarsan 606 

- Developed by Ehrlich, 1905
- The first time that a chemical compound had been used to destroy bacteria.
- Factors that helped =  individual genius, teamwork, chance, government (funded koch's work), technology.

Second magic bullet: Prontosil 

- Developed by Domagk, 1932
- Led to development of several other drugs derived from sulphonamides.
- Factors that helped = technology, chance, communication.


- Lister discovered it first, but didn't continue with his experiments.
- Flemming discovered when spores of mould floated into his lab and he noticed they killed germs.
- Howard Florey and his team of scientists developed it into penicillin.
- Carried out experiments on mice and a dying boy - kept him alive for four days until they ran out.

- Mass production: went to big drug companies, said it would help win the war, Flew to Russia to spread ideas.
- Significance: helped win the war, first antibiotic, saved lives, led to further antibiotics in long term.

DNA (1953)

- Crick & Watson - worked well, both passionate about DNA. Specialised in different areas so had different approaches. Didn't use lab experiments, tried to draw what they thought DNA looked…


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