Antimicrobial Drugs: Chronicle of a Twentieth Century Medical Triumph

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OUP Oxford, Feb 21, 2008 - Medical - 429 pages
Between 1935 and 1944 the field of microbiology, and by implication medicine as a whole, underwent dramatic advancement. The discovery of the extraordinary antibacterial properties of sulphonamides, penicillin, and streptomycin triggered a frantic hunt for more antimicrobial drugs that was to yield an abundant harvest in a very short space of time. By the early 1960s more than 50 antibacterial agents were available to the prescribing physician and, largely by a process of chemicalmodification of existing compounds, that number has more than tripled today. We have become so used to the ready availability of these relatively safe and highly effective 'miracle drugs' that it is now hard to grasp how they transformed the treatment of infection.This book documents the progress made from the first tentative search for an elusive 'chemotherapy' of infection in the early days of the twentieth century, to the development of effective antiviral agents for the management of HIV as the millennium drew to a close. It also offers a celebration of the individuals and groups that made this miracle happen, as well as examining the inexorable rise of the global pharmaceutical industry, and, most intriguingly, the essential input of luck.Infection still maintains a high profile in both medicine and the media, with the current threats of 'superbugs' such as MRSA acquired in hospital, and a potential resistance to antibiotics. This book tracks the history of antimicrobial drugs, a remarkable medical triumph that has provided doctors with an amazing armoury of safe and effective drugs that ensure that reversion to the helpless state of the fight against infection witnessed in the early 1900s is extremely unlikely. This timelycompendium acknowledges the agents that have surely led to the relief of more human and animal suffering than any other class of drugs in the history of medical endeavour.

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It is an impressive work! While reading this book I felt I was present at every discovery of antimicrobial compounds. Details about the events that led to antimicrobial discoveries and personal lives of the researches makes the stories even richer. Thank you Professor David Greenwood.


1 Agents of infection
2 Out of darkness
3 From quinine to sulphonamides by way of Serendip
4 Wonder drugs
5 The taming of tuberculosis and leprosy
6 The golden years of pills and profits
7 Progress against parasites
fungi and viruses
9 The spectre at the feast
Drug register
Subject index

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About the author (2008)

Professor Greenwood was formerly at St Batholomew's Hospital, London before joining the Department of Microbiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School in 1974, where he remained until retirement in 2000. He was Professor of Antimicrobial Science between 1989 and 2000, and is the former Archivist to the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. He has contributed more than 200 scientific articles and books on antimicrobial agents over 40 years.

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