Saturday, November 14, 2015

Discovery of morphine by Friedrich Sertürner

The use of a wide of variety of opium alkaloids, obtained from the dried sap of Papaver somniferum, has been reported ins several cultures. The potential of opium was known and used in ancient Greece, Rome as well as Arab cultures.

Morphine, which is the benzylisoquinoline alkaloid, occurs in significant amounts in opium.

Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner (1783-1855) was a German pharmacist who discovered and isolated morphine from opium in 1804. He named the compound morphine, after Morpheus, the Greek god of dream.

Morhium or morphine is generally accepted as being the first medicinal alkaloid isolated from any plant.

The achievement was the most important ‘quantum leap’ in the history of pharmacology and represents the beginning of the true chemical investigation of plants.

Joseph Caventou (1795-1877) and Pierre Pelletier (1788-1842) were French pharmacist who applied the methods of Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner and were among the first to isolate a number of extremely toxic, yet medicinally important alkaloids  including emetine in 1817, strychnine in 1818, quinine 1820 and veratrine in 1821.

With the invention of the hypodermic needle in 1853, morphine’s use became widespread. Decades alter, heroin was synthesized by Dresser by diacetylating morphine.
Discovery of morphine by Friedrich Sertürner

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