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January 1966

History of Sulfonamides

Arch Otolaryngol. 1966;83(1):1-2. doi:10.1001/archotol.1966.00760020003001

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THE DEVELOPMENT of sulfonamides, the most profound therapeutic revolution in the history of medicine, is recounted in the Current Medical Digest (32:855 [Oct] 1965). Sulfanilamide was synthesized by a German chemist as early as 1908, and in 1917 at the Rockefeller Institute this chemical was added to quinine derivatives in an effort to increase bactericidal properties. Unfortunately for mankind in neither instance was the substance tried in experimental animals or in man. In 1927 the Bayer subsidiary of the I. G. Farbenindustrie began to screen various dyes for antibacterial effect in animals, under the direction of Dr. Gerhard Domagh. On a hunch that combining a sulfamyl group into the dye molecule might enhance the dye's antibacterial activity such a compound was tested on mice in 1931 and found to be effective against streptococcal infections. In December 1932 a sulfonamide-containing dye called Prontosil was found to be even more specific

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