Sunday, December 9, 2012

George Redmayne Murray : moral predecessor to Dawson,Duhig & Pulvertaft's penicillin efforts

moral predecessor to Henry Dawson
Dr George Redmayne Murray is no longer a name that trips off the lips of scientists and doctors, but he still has moral lessons to teach us today.

Thyroid conditions in his day, the 1890s, were started to being treated by grafting new thyroid glands from animals into the bodies of people with diseased ones.

It sort of worked - heroic medicine indeed.

This concept was more or less how Banting originally planned to cure diabetes.

But when Murray read of one such effort is Lisbon, he noted the results came far too immediately -  the same day in fact - for new blood vessels to have had time to grow for the organ to spread the juice of the gland into the body.

The juice must have diffused outward from the new organ, on its own.

In which case, the juice alone, from ground-up animal organs, might work - without the need for an expensive and dangerous major operation to insert the organ itself.

(And let us not go into rejection problems !)

And here is where the application to chivalrous penicillin came in : he immediately extracted the juice of animal thyroid, added a little of a bog-common preservative to the juice to kill off any bacteria within, and injected it cautiously, just under the skin, into a patient with thyroid disease.

It worked -- she recovered her strength- and the first ever successful hormone deficiency treatment had happened for the price of a hot dinner, and in about the same time period it takes to eat a hot dinner !

Insight and drive - not money - more often than not, really drives medical advances

Dawson, Duhig, Pulvertaft also injected their crude substance (penicillin juice) via this method : cautiously just under the skin ( the safest form of injection) and with a simple common preservative to kill any potential pathogens.

Advances in medicine don't always require armies of the ambitious (more eager to produce endless papers than to help patients) and factories full of equipment.

It sometimes just takes deep insight and a moral drive : Murray , like Dawson, clearly had both....

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