Who Invented Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a very important medical procedure used widely to treat people with severe illnesses, specifically cancer patients. Designed to kill cells, it is guaranteed to have positive effects against cancerous tumors and microorganisms. It affects the cells in hair follicles, digestive tract as well as bone marrow. People who undergo it usually experience hair loss or alopecia, inflammation of the digestive tract lining or mucositis and decreased blood cell production or myelosuppression. Aside from these significant details, it is good to know other important information about it including who invented chemotherapy.

The Invention of Chemotherapy

Who invented chemotherapy? Based on reports, it was Alfred Gilman and Louis S. Goodman who invented this kind of treatment. In the 1940s, the U.S. Department of Defense hired them to conduct research on the use of nitrogen mustard as therapeutic agent. They found that such chemical warfare agent could actually treat lymphoma. After that, Eli Lilly discovered the effectiveness of Madagascar periwinkle in blocking tumor cell proliferation. In 1965, the effectiveness of combination chemotherapy as cancer treatment was discovered.

Additional Facts and Other Interesting Information

The use of drugs and chemical substances as medication originated in ancient India, where the people once adhered to the practice referred to as Ayurveda. As part of this practice, people herbs and metals were used widely to treat various types of illnesses. By the 10th century, a Persian physician named Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi started the chemical use for medical purposes. Amongst the items he used were alcohol, bitumen and tar. Likewise, he also used other unconventional materials to treat diseases such as arsenic salts, mercuric salts and copper.

Primarily, doctors recommend chemotherapy to patients in order to palliate symptoms or prolong life. This specific kind of medication can be administered using a number of different ways. For instance, combined modality chemotherapy involves the use of drugs in combination with various kinds of cancer treatments like surgery or radiation therapy. Another strategy is referred to as preoperative treatment or neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Its primary purpose is to reduce the size of the primary tumor.

Furthermore, there is also postoperative treatment or adjuvant chemotherapy, the purpose of which is to minimize the chances of developing resistance in case there is tumor development. In order to increase the life expectancy and reduce the tumor load of patients, doctors usually recommend them to undergo palliative chemotherapy. Chemotherapeutic drugs are classified into different types including anthracyclines, antimetabolites and alkylating agents. The other major types are topoisomerase inhibitors and plant alkaloids.

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