What Are Wonder Drugs?
Wonder Drug is a term used to describe the medicines in the antibiotic group, developed in a process of complete trial and error; such as penicillin. It was proposed to be made specifically because infections were such a disaster in the 1800’s; no doctor could treat any infection. There were treatments that prevented the infection itself, such as Phenol (described in a previous chapter), however if someone already had an infection it was almost guaranteed death with no stopping it. Curing infections was pretty grim until William Perkin’s lovely purple dye was discovered to be the key component in creating the cure that would save millions of lives all around the world.
Key History and Chemistry
Dyes were being used to create Aspirin, the most popular medication in the world, which resulted in an extreme advance into the chemical and medical knowledge of what dyestuffs can do. Salicylic acid was used in the process of discovering Aspirin, which acted as a base anti-inflammatory and reduced fevers/relieved pain.
Eventually, Gerhard Dogmark discovered that a certain kind of red dye could be used to kill bacteria. Sulfanilamide was the main ‘ingredient’ in this dye that fought to kill bacteria is comes on contact with. Once sulfanilamide was discovered to be the main part; the chemical structure of this molecule of red dye was changed heavily in attempt to it more effective. The result, a category of antibiotics called Sulfa Drugs. These drugs were extremely effective at killing common diseases at that time; however had a terrible list of side effects high fever, horrible rashes, and even the fatal kidney failure.
Penicillin was discovered in 1877. It was tested in numerous trials and eventually it proved to be better than Sulfa Drugs. Penicillin treated the same diseases and infections that Sulfa Drugs did however it did not have the deadly side-effects that Sulfa Drugs had, therefore making penicillin the new and improved infection killer.
Chemistry-wise, penicillin is relatively simple. There are multiple types of penicillin, however only one part of the structure varies and another part is always constant. That structure is R-C9H11N2O4S, from which the R is the variable which changed depending on the type of penicillin. It’s actual structure is a four-part lactam ring fused with a thiazolidine ring, which is simply a 5-part saturated ring with a specific group in each part of the ring.
Penicillin, Aspirin and other wonder drugs are more prominent in today’s society than ever before. The current generation we live in is incredibly scientifically-based, with more new technology being created. Because of all this new technology, scientists are always looking for a better answer relating to the medical field, so as a result many new wonder drugs are being created. Science itself is so progressive; just as penicillin replaced antibiotics and phenol for infection treatment, something will eventually replace penicillin, and then another will replace that, until an ultimate cure is established.
About the Author’s Argument
Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson did an excellent job in explaining wonder drugs in thorough detail. Partically, they went into more of the backstory, referencing previous chapters such as Dyes, Phenol and Cloves, Nutmeg, Ginger. This really shows that all the molecules introduced in this book impacted not just society, but also impacted each other as well. They also did a wonderful job explaining just how progressive science really is, such as dyes led to antibiotics, which led to sulfa drugs and progressed into penicillin, and they explained specifically how each one was related to one another. Not only did they show just how effective these wonder drugs were, they also went into detail of how they are formed, such as what chemical processes are used in a clear, easy to read format. In the end, I feel that this chapter was one of the richest in terms of backstory and chemistry, and thoroughly connected each type of molecule in this broad term of wonder drugs in a perfect way. I mean really, just think about all the millions of lives saved and the millions of scientists Wonder Drugs have impacted.
PS. First blog of the class, you all are too scared to post yours 😛