History of disease

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 8 March 2016

History of disease

In what ways did the understanding of the treatment of disease change in the years 1860-1945? The treatment of disease changed dramatically in the years 1860-1845 due to the changes of how people understand it, how each discovery such as Pasteur’s opens new doors, leading to other discoveries such Koch’s identification of germs, the magic bullet and discovery of penicillin. this has help society to understand the causes of disease, and the ways to tackle it. These discoveries began in the 1800s, where doctors at the time were just beginning to speculate about germs and microbes with a new invention, the microscope. the microscope can see what is invisible to human eye and it was good use for identifying micro organism as they were incredibly small. those doctors who believed germs existed thought they were the result of disease and not the cause of it, and this idea was called the spontaneous generation. However this was about to be proven wrong, in 1857 a wine maker Louse Pasteur was the man that made a breakthrough that linked germs to disease. His discovery was made by accident when he was investigating why sugar beat became sour unexpectedly. he proved that sugar beat soured because of the germs carried in the air. the germs in the sugar beat infected by the air is eliminated by boiling it with fire, this is known as pasteurizing. although his experimental evidence supported his idea, people at the time refused he’s belief. its like saying to the community that i have discovered a treatment for cancer but they wouldn’t believe it because it wasn’t taken to account for. Pasteur’s discovery has made a huge influence to the treatment of medicine. His work led to the discovery of vaccines for chicken cholera 1880, Anthrax 1881 and Rabies 1995. Furthermore, Robert Koch a German physician took Pasteur’s work a step further. He spend his work looking to link particular germs to particular diseases. His first major breakthrough came in 1875 when he identified the microbe that causes the Anthrax disease.

With the development of technology, he discovered that there are microbes that are preciously invisible to the human eye, even to the most powerful microscopes. because of this factor he developed ways of staining the microbes with dyes so he could see them, calculate the microbe’s rate of reproduction and their lifespan. His discovery of the identification of different bacteria and the different disease it caused was a huge breakthrough in medical history and the understanding of the treatment of diseases, as his work proved that what really caused diseases was. This is a significance to medicine as he discovered 21 different germs causing diseases. in 1882 he discovered a germ that causes tuberculosis, 1883 a germ that caused cholera and these were one of the top 3 deadliest diseases. this breakthrough paved way for other scientists to take up the challenge and conduct research leading to new discoveries as such. Koch’s assistant Emil Behring developed the first anti toxin which could help to destroy the poison spread from bacteria in the blood stream. This was used for the successful treatment of Diphtheria in 1891 one of the top deadliest diseases. This led to a German Jewish scientist and physician Paul Ehrlich who worked on Koch’s bacteriology lab to take on a research during the 1890s on how certain dyes could stain certain bacteria and maybe find certain chemicals that can kill them. by 1914 his team had discovered several types of ‘magic bullets’, these different compounds would have a specific attraction to specific disease-causing microbe in the body and this would hit a specific germ (that has become visible because of a specific dye) and not damage anything else in the patient’s body. the magic bullets dye discovered were Methylene blue (for malaria), Trypan red (for sleeping sickness) and Salvarsan (for syphilis).

This was a huge medical breakthrough because this will allow other scientists to developed specific drugs to target specific germs, attacking the cause of the disease rather than treating the symptoms. this is a significant discovery because it shows us an understanding on how bacteria behaves and how to treat a disease by target and kill. this gave a broad idea of treating medicine because not only they can target and kill syphilis, malaria but they can do this for other diseases. As a result, in 1928 a bacteriologist Alexander Fleming while cleaning his cluttered lab noticed that a culture of Staphylococus aureas had become contaminated with mould in his Petri dish. This mould was called Penicillium Notatum. The mould was in a shape of a ring, and the area around it seemed to be free of the bacteria staphylococcus. Fleming concluded that the bacteria on the plate around the ring had been killed off by some substances that had come from mould. He continued to experiment with the mould and found out (in controlled experiments) that the mould killed harmful bacteria and appears to be non-toxic to humans or animals . This was a huge scientific breakthrough because the mould is nontoxic and can kill all kinds of bacteria; if it was isolated into a drug it can be used to treat patients. Unfortunately Fleming could not isolate the mould and could not make a usefule drug to treat humans. although he wrote his discovery in 1929 the science department remained uninterested. Not Until 12 years later a pair of young scientists Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, revisited and continued Fleming’s work as a way to help military effort in World War 2, since a lot soldiers die in infections than gun wounds, something needed to be done. So in Oxford University they finally isolated the bacteria-killing substance from mould. this creation has a huge significance in medical treatment because they have created the once known ‘wonder drug’ that could kill harmful pathogens as such, that can possibly cure syphilis gangrene pneumonia and tuberculosis.

To prove its potential it needed to be trialed on a human. In 1941 a doctor Charles Fletcher heard of their work. he had a patient who was near death from an bacterial infection on wound. Fletcher used some of chain’s and Florey’s penicillin on the patient and the wound made a spectacular recovery. however the patient died a few weeks later because Fletcher did not put enough penicillin to eliminate completely the bacteria in the patient’s body. Despite this case, this had proven that penicillin could do what it’s made to do. the patient only died because he did not have enough penicillin, not that it did not work. Since a lot of people died in infections than gunshots in World War 2, they needed a drug that can effectively heal America’s soldiers. Florey then got the American drugs Company to mass produced Penicillin before D-Day, so American soldiers on the front have enough penicillin to treat all infections that will be inflicted among the troops. This is a huge significance to medical treatment because not only they created a non toxic, bacteria killing drug, the drug can cure all bacterial based diseases such a syphilis , pneumonia and tuberculosis, since they can mass produce it the drug is therefore cheap and can treat almost everyone. Overall the understanding od disease and treatment developed greatly in the years treatment of disease change developed greatly in the years 1860-1945 as man were able to understand…


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 8 March 2016

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