Hit the book: an ode to joy from antibiotics

The pressure and uncertainty surrounding the COVID pandemic, and misinformation about life-saving vaccines developed in response, Broke many weak minds In the past two years, people have tried various methods, from injecting themselves with bleach and inhaling atomized hydrogen peroxide, to misleading horse repellents that defeat modern medicine. Surprisingly, it actually has no effect. Worse, this behavior is nothing new. Gaga homeopathy has existed for centuries- For example, the bubonic plague can be cured by bleeding, self-whipping, or sitting in a hot sewer to dissipate fever -And is only supported by anecdotal evidence.

In their latest book, Patient Zero: The Wonderful History of the World’s Most Serious Disease, Dr. Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen have delved into the fascinating history of some of the deadliest human diseases, as well as the social protection work of scientists who have developed cures, vaccines and treatments to combat these diseases. In the following excerpt, we take a look at the deployment of antibiotics and antitoxins in the fight against diphtheria, anthrax and other deadly diseases.

Workers Publishing House

From Patient Zero: The wonderful history of the world’s worst disease Written by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen, MD. Workers Publishing House © 2021


In addition to setting up barriers between us and the plague, the next major way to defeat them is to attack them directly, thanks to scientific breakthroughs in the creation and discovery of antibiotics and antitoxins. Some of these drugs are not only used to combat bacteria and other microorganisms, but can also be used as antifungal agents, antiviral agents, and antiparasitic agents. Today, there are more than one hundred kinds of drugs in this category. The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a list of drugs that are considered essential to a country’s health care system to provide the best care for its citizens. A large part of the essential drugs can fight infectious diseases.

Some people may think that penicillin was the first decisive weapon we found in the fight against pathogens, but several preceded it and made significant progress when they were discovered.

The Prussian-born Emil von Behring is a doctor and assistant to the famous Robert Koch of the Berlin Institute of Health. In 1888, he developed a method to treat patients with diphtheria and tetanus. Nowadays, diphtheria is not a disease that many people are familiar with. A vaccine usually combined with a conventional tetanus vaccine can prevent diphtheria. In the 1800s, diphtheria was a terrible killer. It inflamed the victim’s heart, caused paralysis, and caused the throat to be covered with a suffocating membrane.In Spain, the disease was very rampant in 1613, so it was nicknamed Garrotillos year, Or “the year of strangulation.”

Most diseases caused by diphtheria are driven by toxins produced by diphtheria Corynebacterium diphtheriaeVon Behring infects rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs in a weakened (attenuated) form, and then collects their serum, the liquid part of the blood, minus red blood cells and white blood cells. This light honey-colored liquid contains antibodies to diphtheria toxin and was then injected into another group of animals infected with the fully virulent diphtheria bacteria.

The newly infected animals that received the serum did not die because they received a passive form of toxin protection through the donated serum. In 1891, this new method was used for the first time to save the life of a child. Serum is produced in large quantities using animals such as sheep and horses. In an era when 50,000 children die of diphtheria every year, this is a miraculous treatment.

Soon after, the tetanus serum came out and became a viable treatment in 1915. Today, antitoxins are used to treat botulism, diphtheria and anthrax. The same principles of antitoxin therapy are used for antivenom to treat bites from venomous animals, including bites from black widow spiders, scorpions, box jellyfish, and cobras. A treatment method called passive antibody therapy, which is to provide the serum of patients who have recovered from infection to other sick patients (also known as convalescent plasma therapy), which may be helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the data It has not been announced yet. Anti-infective antibodies can not only treat diseases such as toxic shock syndrome, but also prevent infections during exposure, such as hepatitis A and B and botulism. But the antibodies themselves have been used to treat more than just bites, stings and infections. Intravenous immunoglobulin from pooled donors can treat a variety of diseases, such as ITP (immune thrombocytopenia) and severe immunodeficiency diseases.

Another antibody therapy—monoclonal antibodies—has changed treatments in the past ten years or so, and the first was approved by the FDA in 1986. These specially designed antibodies are used to treat many types of cancer (melanoma, breast cancer, stomach, etc.) and autoimmune diseases (including Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis). The antibody itself is a Y-shaped protein that binds to a specific protein. In doing so, they can trigger a range of effects: open or close the immune system cascade, destroy cells, prevent or participate in cell activity. Antibodies only bind to a single antigen, so they are “single” and are produced by a large number of antibody-producing cell clones. Sometimes they can also be combined with radioactive particles to deliver radioactivity directly to cancer cells. Others can be combined with chemotherapy drugs. Usually, they work alone.

In the field of cancer treatment, most of us have a certain understanding of chemotherapy. But the origin of the term “chemotherapy” actually comes from the fight against infection, not cancer. At the turn of the 20th century, antibiotics had not established themselves as a treatment for infections. A doctor and scientist named Paul Ehrlich changed this situation. He was born in East Prussia (now Poland) in 1854, where his father ran a lottery office. During his career, he used the booming German dye industry to experiment with how cells can be stained with different chemicals. His love of color has led to some notable traits, such as the roots of colored pencils in his pocket. But Ehrlich’s work led to what later became the famous Ziehl-Neelsen tuberculosis acid-fast stain. (Unfortunately, he also stained his own tuberculosis bacteria from his sputum, although lucky to survive.) Later, he cooperated with the aforementioned Nobel Laureate physiologist Emil von Behring to treat tetanus and diphtheria. Serum therapy.

But perhaps Ehrlich’s most striking discovery happened by accident when he sought chemotherapy to treat a specific disease-“chemotherapy”.Specifically, he hopes to cure sleeping sickness, which is called Trypanosoma bruceiHe has been studying a chemical substance called atoxyl (meaning “non-toxic”), which ironically is an arsenic compound. Ehrlich coined the term “magic bullet”, which is related to his hope to find a perfect chemical substance that is expected to kill a very special pathogen. Trypanosoma Parasites, not patients. He eventually tested 900 different arsenic compounds on mice. None of them were particularly effective, but he re-examined #606 because it seemed to have an effect on a newly discovered bacterium believed to cause syphilis. In 1910, a drug called Salvarsan (sometimes simply referred to as “606”) proved effective—it killed Treponema pallidum and kept guinea pigs, rabbits, and mice alive.

In the next few decades, new research will be used not only to combat ancient epidemics, but also to combat everyday infections that may disrupt people’s lives.If these, scratches or bites may result in death staphylococcus or Streptococcus The infection is out of control. A German scientist named Gerhard Domagk began to study a group of chemical substances called azo dyes, which have characteristic double nitrogen bonds. Azo dyes can color textiles, leather and food in various shades of bright orange, red and yellow. When the azo compound is connected to a sulfonamide group (a nitrogen and sulfur bond, and two oxygen atoms are connected to a sulfur double bond, if you need to impress friends at a party), they know they have found something special s things. The sulfonamide group inhibits the ability of bacteria to make folic acid, an essential B vitamin. On the other hand, humans can obtain folic acid through diet. So another magic bullet was born.This new compound seems to be good for infection Streptococcus, Also known as streptococcus.

Domagk used this new patented Prontosil drug called KL 730 on his own daughter Hildegard. Suffering from a severe streptococcal infection, she received an injection of Prontosil and recovered, although the drug left a visible stain and reddish discoloration at the injection site.

“Sulfa” drugs will continue to be used in various drugs, including antibiotics (trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, also known as Bactrim), diabetes drugs (glibenclamide, sulfonylureas), diuretics (furosemide) Rice or Lasix), analgesics (celecoxib or Celebrex) are now also used to treat pneumonia, skin and soft tissue infections, and urinary tract infections.

Domagk’s work won him the Nobel Prize in 1935. However, the Nazis did not approve of how the Nobel Committee tried to help the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky. They let the Gestapo arrest Domagk because he accepted the award and forced him to return it. He received it later in 1947.

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