Rosen presents extensive details of the day-day work done by Raul Ehrlich and his collaborators as they pursued his "magic bullet" theory of disease and discovered the antibiotic Salvarsan
. He adds a bit of perspective on that work by also acknowledging the achievements of men such as Lavoisier, Dalton, Kekule, and Thomson.
Only a few persons within the larger health community at the time openly doubted the effectiveness of salvarsan
and neosalvarsan treatments and Wasserman results.
An anti-Semite may forego being cured of an ugly disease by the employment of the "Jewish" drug Salvarsan
and have recourse to a less efficacious remedy.
He claimed that in some of the hospitals which did accept cases of syphilis the patients were only treated with Salvarsan
, the specific remedy made available by Paul Erlich in 1910, if they could pay for it; otherwise they were treated with mercury.
The result of this first high-throughput screen was Arsphenamine (also known as Salvarsan
), a drug whose effectiveness was nothing short of stunning for its time.
There had been, however, some movement regarding organic mental illness in Europe and America in the second half of the 19th century--newly discovered salvarsan
was the hope for neurosyphilis, but it proved to be ineffective in chronic infections.
Paul Erhlich, the Nobel laureate famed for groundbreaking work ira hematology and immunology, coined the term chemotherapy and discovered arsphenamine (Salvarsan
), a form of arsenic and the first chemotherapeutic agent for systemic treatment of a microorganism.
One of the early chemicals developed by Ehrlich which was both remarkably nontoxic to humans and remarkably toxic against a number of treponemal diseases (including syphilis and yaws) was the arsenical compound, Salvarsan
arsphenamine, which was also called the "magic bullet".