The Role of Chemistry in History

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Morphine Affects History: Modern Pharmacology

April 30th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Morphine: An Introduction | Discovery and Synthesis of Morphine | Addiction and Opiate Receptors | Morphine Affects History: Modern Pharmacology | History Affects Morphine: The Hypodermic Needle | History Affects Morphine II: Cultural Antipathy and Anti-Narcotics Law| References

  • Upon reporting his successful isolation of morphine, Sertürner was lauded by the Institut de France for having “opened the way to important medical discoveries” (Berridge and Edwards)

  • His experiment proved “that plants contain active substances that, on isolation, carry the therapeutic properties of the plant”; it is no surprise then, that the isolation of morphine, the first such isolation of a “natural product,” was a “seminal event in the development of pharmacology as an independent discipline” (Huxtable and Schwarz)

  • Sertürner is known as the “father or alkaloid chemistry” (Herbert, Venter, and Pos), and his discovery is said to mark the beginning of the “modern era of narcotics” (Blakemore and White)

  • Indeed, shortly after the isolation of morphine, numerous other alkaloids were isolated, including important molecules like caffeine (1820) and nicotine (1828)

  • All told, then, it is fitting that Sir Robert Robinson – the man who deduced the molecule’s chemical structure – referred to morphine as a “veritable Proteus among molecules”

Tags: Morphine