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February 15, 1947

BACKGROUND TO CHEMOTHERAPY

JAMA. 1947;133(7):478-479. doi:10.1001/jama.1947.02880070042012
Abstract

In a recent issue the British Medical Bulletin1 publishes, under the heading of "Background to Chemotherapy," a series of articles dealing with the historical and theoretic aspects of chemotherapy. E. M. Lourie believes that the term chemotherapy should be restricted in its meaning to the intention of its originator, Paul Ehrlich, applying only to the treatment of infections by chemical compounds. The aim of the investigator in chemotherapy, according to Schulemann, is to reach the parasite cells and to throw their function so irreversibly out of order that the parasite dies but the host remains as unharmed as possible. Ehrlich's greatest practical achievement was the introduction of arsphenamine (salvarsan) in 1910.

In 1935 Domagk announced p-sulfonamido-chrysoidin (prontosil) as an effective agent against infections with hemolytic streptococci, and Tréfouël, Tréfouël, Bovet and Nitti of the Institute Pasteur demonstrated that the part of the prontosil molecule which conferred staining properties was

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