Chemistry in Relation to Medicine


IN a recent lecture before the Royal Institute of Chemistry* on some recent advances in chemistry in relation to medicine, D. H. Hey gives an interesting and concise account of the astonishing contributions which have been made in this field during the last ten years. The beginning of this century saw the introduction of the first therapeutic compound of major importance which had been made to the chemist's design, namely, aspirin, first made in 1899. At the present rate of progress, Dr. Hey suggests, the present major diseases and scourges of mankind will be completely controlled well before the end of this century. This will seem to some medical men an optimistic prophecy; but certainly recent work gives every reason to hope for its realization. One difficulty, however, is that the human talent which slays these dragons so rapidly discovers almost as quickly new causes of disease which defeat existing remedies; and although we may banish the major scourges, we should give equal attention to the minor ones, some of which cause incalculable unhappiness and economic loss and are untouched by our most efficient therapeutic compounds—the 'common cold', for example.

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