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The introduction to Medicinal Chemistry No.1

Updated: Jan 11, 2018

Before Medicinal Chemistry



Medicine plays an important role in humans' daily life. It rescues us when we are dying. It saves millions of lives every single seconds. For me, I will say the medicine has not only saved us but to be more precisely, it will be better to say it will save us. From my point of view, it will ensure us not to be wiped off from the earth because of the ''disease seaquake'' in the future. So in order to be clear about how the medicine will change our destiny in the future, we need to learn what it had changed in our ''long'' history.

So, where is the starting point?

For me, we need to go way back to the time before the proper medicinal chemistry even existed. It is the time we were not changing or creating new chemicals instead we were using the things around us. I call this period the first step of the development from four steps in total. For this step I will use a phrase, ''the stage which we were using natural drug,'' to describe it.

It starts from the ancient time to the end of 19th century. Our ancestors learnt from their experiences to know which natural substance can treat the matching diseases and kill the pain. They had to do this because they needed to survive. This is the starting point of the medicine. Because of the fight between the religion and the evil power, the enjoyment for the feudal kings, the skill of finding and making medicine in this stage gets improved. However, the major improvements are made by the accumulation of the practice of the folk medicine, and this fact gets recorded by most ancient countries like China, Egypt, Greece, Indian and so on, here are some examples, around First Century BC the ''Shennong's Herbal Classic herbal'' book was written by Chinese and the ''Ebers'' ''papyrus'' by Egyptians. There is one Chinese pharmacologist called Li Shi Zheng who gave a ''Big Push'' in the development of the medicine by writing his own book called ''Compendium of Materia Medica'' In that book, it recorded around 1829 types of medicine materials, 1160 pieces of pictures, and over 11000 prescripts.

After the Renaissance of the west Europe, people's mind started to dispense from the fetter of religion, and started to believe science can actually tell them the truth, they also started to believe if you observe objectively you will be able to find the truth. A Swiss Land doctor Paracelsus criticized the Cachexia idealism theory which was brought up by an ancient Greece doctor Galen, and this action finished up the 1500 years' dark ages in the medical history. The Italian Physiologist F. Fontana made a conclusion that every single neutral medicine has their own active ingredient. He found this conclusion by testing the poisonous of thousands of drugs on the animals which might be seen as an animal abuse now; few years later this conclusion has first been authenticated by a German Chemist F.W. Serturner. He proved this conclusion by separating the morphine from meconium. At the 18th century, the British Industrial Revolution started, it not only pushed the development of the industry production but also carried the improvement on the natural science. Among all the developments of the Chemistry the develop of the Organic Chemistry provide a material base for the pharmacology, we kept separating the active ingredients from the vegetable drug and this helped us to achieve a purer medicine, like, Emetine, Quinine, Strychnine, Cocaine and so on. These Chemistry studies about the natural products greatly improved the level of the Organic Chemistry and the Medicinal Chemistry. This lead us into a new stage-the rising of the Medicinal Chemistry, Chemotherapy and the Drug Synthesis.

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