Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from A-E

Domagk, Gerhard

drugs diseases effective infections

[ doh mak] (1895–1964) German biochemist: discoverer of sulphonamide antibacterial drugs.

Success in treating some protozoal diseases by chemotherapy had led to high hopes of similar success in the treatment of bacterial diseases. Diseases due to protozoa are common in the tropics; in temperate regions, diseases due to the smaller bacteria are major problems. However, by 1930 hopes had faded; trial compounds usually failed to be effective in the presence of blood or pus. This was the position when Domagk began work on the problem. He had qualified in medicine at Kiel in 1921 and in 1927 began to direct research at the bacteriology laboratory of I G Farbenindustrie at Wuppertal, while retaining a position at the University of Münster. His scheme was to test a series of new carpet dyes made by I G Farben, trying them as drugs against streptococcal infections in mice, and in 1932 he found that the dye Prontosil Red was highly effective. Human trials soon followed and included a dramatic cure of Domagk’s daughter, who had a serious sepsis following a needle prick. In 1936 a French group including found that Prontosil is converted in the body into the rather simple compound sulphanilamide, which is the effective agent. It had been known since 1908, was cheap and unpatentable and does not discolour the patient. Treatment of bacterial infections (for example pneumonia and streptococcal infections) was vastly improved by the use of sulphanilamide and related ‘sulpha’ drugs such as M&B 693. After 1945 penicillin and other antibiotics became dominant, but sulpha drugs remain valuable. Domagk was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1939, but was not able to accept the medal until 1947 as his country was at war. The Nobel rules did not allow him to have the prize money after such a delay, but in 1947 he was given the gold medal and the diploma.

Domar, Alice - Psychologist, scientist, and professor, Career, Sidelights, Selected writings, Nonfiction [next] [back] Dolores Claiborne (1995) - Overview, Synopsis, Critique

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or