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Monday, May 23, 2005
In a tiny laboratory in Germany an obscure young pharmacist's apprentice managed to concentrate the power of poppies into crystals that could control coughs, ease pain and tease users into a pleasant slumber.

Friedrich Sertuerner, 22, published a paper announcing his discovery in 1806. He was ignored.

So he went back to his experiments, injecting dogs with the drug he had extracted from opium and doping himself and his buddies. A dozen years later he published again, this time naming his discovery after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. And this time, the medical world took note.

Two hundred years later, physicans and academics from around the globe were to gather Saturday in Germany to toast the native son who discovered one of medicine's most important advances: MORPHINE.

Over two centuries, the pain killer and sedative has comforted soldiers, eased the pain of the dying, calmed babies and been feared as an addictive seducer.

Sertuerner's finding ranks on the short list of groundbreaking medical advances,along with the discovery of ether, X-rays and blood types, said Dr,. Jonathan Moss of University of Chicago's Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care.

Morphine,he said, remains the drug for post opeative pain against which all other painkiller are measured.

Opiates like Morphinework so well because they mesh with the brain's existing hard wiring and chemical processes. Morphine triggers the release of Dopamine, responsible for pleasurable sensations like the high an experienced runner feels during a workout.

It also works no matter how it enters the body, making it versatile for a host of ailing patients. They can swallow a tablet, allow it to dissolve under the tongue or have it injected into the bloodstream, muscle tissue or near the spine.

The drug's biggest drawback is constipation, along with nausea and vomiting, accoring to Dr. Moss. So University of Chicago researchers have developed a drug, now in advanced clinical trials, that is designed to block those side effects.

Morphine was a staple drug for civil war doctors in part because of that less than glamourous effect on the morning constitution.

Dysentery and other camp disease killed more soldiers than battlefield wounds, so the drug was more likely to be used to stave off diarrhea than to ease pain, according to Michael Flannery, a University of Alabama at Birmingham historian of 19th century pharmaceuticals.

Important dates in Morphine history:
Since its invetion 200 years ago, Morphine has been used in a variety of forms for several uses, including pain killing for theose suffering from cancer and AIDS.

** 1805: German pharmacy apprentice Friedrcih Sertuerner creates a painkiller from poppies. The medical world shows little interest.

** 1817: Sertuerner christens the drug Morphine after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams.

** 1860s: During the Civil War, morphine is used to treat soldier suffering from dysentery.

** Late 1800s: A slew of morphine-laced concoctions, such as Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, are used to put teething youngsters to bed.

** 1906: The Pure Food and Drug Act requires morphine to appear on drug labels.

** 1914:Partially inspired by a backlash against opium dens, the federal Harrison Narcotics Tax Act regulates production, prescription and use of opiates such as morphine.

** 1940s: A morphine syrette allows World War II medics to carry the pain reliever into bottle.

** 1963: Chemists creare a synthetic version of morphine, but it is more expensive and fails in the market place.

(Source: Michael A. Flannery, Greg Higby, NIH/CHICTRIB by: Tonya Maxwell.)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:00 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
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About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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