Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On a day when most other youth got America's first peacetime draft card, Aaron & Charlie got History's first needle of antibiotics : Dies Mirabilis ,October 16 1940

When the possibility of  your nation joining a world wide war looms, getting your first ever draft registration card must feel just like getting the kiss of death, to a young man on the campus of Columbia University.

But when you are a young man on another part of Columbia's campus who has been written off  'as soon to die from an invariably fatal disease', getting instead History's first ever needle of antibiotics, must feel just like getting the kiss of life.

Hence the spooky Janus-like nature of Dies Mirabilis , October 16th 1940.....

Majority of Americans remain silent as Woodrow Wilson's legacy is brutally destroyed : 1938-1941

Thank God Almighty that Adolf Hitler declared war on America, because without it, would America have ever gone to war against the greatest evil the world has ever known ?

The fact remains that between September 1938 and December 1941, the majority of Americans had stood silent as the legacy of their own president Woodrow Wilson was brutally dismembered by the twin 'evil empires' of Hitler and Stalin.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Resetting the Allied moral compass so that it diverged from the Nazis, not merely followed a muted parallel course

It remains unknown whether Henry Dawson expected his quixotic wartime efforts (to "waste" weaponized penicillin on 'useless' SBEs ) to go as far as they ultimately did.

He certainly was extremely unhappy that America was treating its wartime 'SBE lives unworthy of life' in almost as bad a fashion as Nazi Germany was known to be doing to its SBEs and others seen as "useless mouths".

But did he suspect his assault on weaponizing penicillin would extend beyond the Allies' horrific wartime neglect of the poorer chronically ill ?

The Cure for Auschwitz Disease : "Dawson's Crude" : .56% penicillin ...and 99 and 44/100ths pure love

Pray there comes a day when most premature deaths really are 'Acts of God', when even the best of money and the best of medical care could not result in a happy ending.

But until that happier day, most premature deaths in the world - in peace as in war - are 'Acts of Humanity' , or rather 'Acts of Lack of Humanity'.

Sins of Omission : premature death caused because the people dying are not judged (by others more fortunate) as worthy of devoting much money or effort towards saving.

"Pax Penicillia" : how Churchill's Britain won the war and lost the peace

The decision by Winston Churchill's (Tory) Minister of Supply (MoS) not to divert the money for one additional Lancaster squadron, used to bomb civilians in Europe, towards providing enough penicillin for British (and European) civilians resulted in Churchill's Tories winning the war for Britain --- but at the cost of losing the peace.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Penicillin's "Bengali Famine Years" : 1943-1944

It was not America and Britain, it was not even the British and American governments ,that made the momentous decision, between late 1942 and early 1943, not to divert tax money just a little away from bombs and towards penicillin production instead.

This decision led, over the period of 1943-1944,  to a Bengali Famine-like situation among the Allies over shortages of live-saving drugs for civilians.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Weaponized" penicillin to be a frontline Army wound powder and hence the needs of the Navy, Air Force and Civilians are not relevant...

One of the most historic of meetings and dates in the whole extended penicillin saga occurred on September 25 1942 at Portland House in London England .

 In fact one key participant at the meeting sensed this so greatly that he even whispered that history was going to view it that way, into the ear of the chairman as the meeting broke up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Patient ONE of the Antibiotics Era : how the saving of Charlie Aronson changed our world

During his lifetime, Dr Henry Dawson only gave penicillin to several dozen endocarditis patients, Charlie Aronson first among them ; only saved several dozen lives, Charlie among them.

Dawson's pioneering effort to inject Charlie with penicillin on October 16th and 17th 1940 (Dies Miribilis) certainly didn't directly save many lives.

But the moral fact that Dawson cared enough in the first place about Charlie-the-person, to pioneer in making and to giving him penicillin, has certainly saved tens and tens of millions of lives ever since Dawson's premature death in 1945.

If  only the greater cultural milieu surrounding Dawson and Charlie had been as willing - nay as eager - to save Charlie 'the 4F of the 4Fs' as Dawson was, it might also have been as willing - nay eager - to save the Jews of Europe as well.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Penicillin : biologic 1929-1939 , chemotherapeutic 1939-1949

In 1944, Frank M Berger ( later creator of the post-war drug Miltown but then just a worker in a local municipal public health lab in the remotes of northern England)  came up with an unique way of making and using penicillin.

On second thoughts, his method might well have been done first by Alexander Fleming's Wright-Fleming vaccine institute and their pharmaceutical distributor Parke-Davis about 15 years earlier : Penicillin the Biologic.

On further further reflection : should have been done first by Alec Fleming.

Howard Florey saw potential enemies everywhere, but with "friends" like A N Richards and Robert Coghill, he hardly need bother looking any further

Howard Florey's correspondence twice notes that he has just received a higher yielding strain of penicillium from America.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Re-setting the Allies' moral compass : the acid test of penicillin for wartime endocarditis

Please correct me : but in all my research I could find no indication that in his 15 years of medical research before October 16th 1940, (and he was a world-class expert in the area of strep bacteria) Henry Dawson had never written or spoken one peep - not one peep - on the subject of endocarditis, a very common and deadly disease, usually caused then by a variant of strep bacteria.

two is a coincidence, three is a pattern : the OSRD on the weak and the strong

It is a commonplace to note that Vannevar Bush's wartime agency the OSRD, the biggest of Washington's many wartime scientific bureaucracies, favoured the strongest companies and the strongest universities.

Coincidence, say many.

But the fact that the OSRD, the strongest companies and the strongest universities all ganged up together to deny penicillin to America's weakest of the weakest seems more than a long stream of coincidences : it betrays a pattern......

Henry Dawson puts the Allied treatment of the weak and the strong to the "Acid Test"

This was Henry Dawson's Acid Test : during World War Two, did the treatment of the weak and the strong by the nations that ultimately made up the Allies differ in kind or only in degree from that of the Axis nations?

Any single individual - let alone a single dying individual - could not pose that question across a broad spectrum of issues and expect to force a response.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

OSRD /1942: did Manhattan Project type thinking bleed over and obstruct the Penicillin Project as well ?

It is crystal clear that Merck's top scientific advisor A N Richards was never a strong advocate for fast-paced penicillin development within Merck, as that drug company casually messed about with penicillin, from November 1939 till August 1941.

That is, Merck had 18 months of some sort of commercial and scientific activity around penicillin , before Howard Florey actually arrived on the scene.

But Florey eventually made Richards a strong convert to the idea of having Richards' military medical weapon oriented agency , the famous OSRD , use penicillin for secret military advantage over the Axis.

Spores and Wartime Secrecy : can they actually co-exist ?

You might think I am going to talk about Anthrax spores and asymmetrical terrorist germ warfare.

But you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

I want to talk instead about wartime penicillin, and a part of it that is never ever discussed.

Its inherently asymmetrical medical nature.

Which appropriately enough, then  "drifts over" into its inherently asymmetrical military potential.

Penicillin in wartime: an alphabet soup of organizations passing the buck then hogging the credit

I am still not fully recovered from the disaster of my first public talk on wartime penicillin before Dalhousie University's  Medical History Society.

I was given a very generous amount of time by the Society's Jock Murray and Allan Marble to state my case but it didn't help : my choice for a title slide in my powerpoint presentation simply covered far too big a subject and left me no 'on the spot' wiggle room.

" Wartime Penicillin : from secret 'war weapon' to widely publicized 'beacon of hope' " is not a topic line easy to compress.

 (Though last night's blog entry on the Janus Month of March 1943 would have been a good attempt at compression.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wartime Penicillin's coke-addled Janus Month : March 1943

In March 1943 (midway through the war) , for the very first time in WWII, a part of wartime penicillin research that had been hitherto public was finally and effectively put under official government censorship : anything involving the chemistry of penicillin.

At the very same time, other (hitherto effectively secret) parts of the penicillin story were about to become globally publicized in official government propaganda !

"I am not making this up", as Canada's Liberal Party is wont to say.

America LOSES WWII : because of quarrels between government agencies, such as over Penicillin

The above headline sounds bizarre to our ears, because we are  used to only hearing it being used as the standard explanation given as to why Japan and Germany lost the (largely technical and scientific) world war against the Allies.