Friday, February 15, 2013

Discovery of quinine

The discovery of quinine marked the beginning of modern pharmacology.

The first recorded account use of quinine came at the Viceregal Place in Lima, Peru, in 1638 when the illness of the Countess Cinchon, Francisca Henriquez de Ribera became so severe, that it was said, the court physician risked a desperate, last chance remedy with medicine he had heard was used for fever in the unhealthy gold mining district of Loja, not far from Quito.

The cure for malaria cam to Europe by way of the New World. In the 1600s Jesuit missionaries in Brazil and Peru began grinding up and chewing cinchona bark as a medicinal treatment for malaria.

In 1820, two French scientists, Pierre-Joseph Pelletier (1788-1877) and Joseph Bienaimé Caventou (1795-1877) identified and extracted the active ingredient an alkaloid from cinchona (or quina) bark and named it quinine. The purified compound began to be used instead of powdered bark to treat malaria.

After discovery of quinine several chemists thought that a third uncrystallizable alkaloid occurs in the barks of the cinchonas.

In 1828 Friedrich Wohler synthesized urea form ammonium chloride and silver cyanate, both considered minerals and showed that organic compounds might be made from inorganic ones.

This process, along with Hermann Kolbe’s preparation of acetic acid in 1845, gave hope to some that quinine might soon be artificially-synthetically-formed.

By 1830 quinine was being manufactured on a large scale and by the 1840s European in Africa were keeping pills by their bedstands. The death rate from malaria dropped dramatically.

In 1854, Adolph Strecker at the University of Christiana, Oslo determined quinines empirical formula. In 1944, the structure of the alkaloid molecule (C20H24N2O2) was discovered.
 Discovery of Quinine
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