Arsenicals and other metallic compounds have been used
in medicine at least since the time of the sixteenth century Swiss physician and
alchemist, Paracelsus (Philippus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim). The
explorer David Livingstone was among those who used arsenic in the treatment of
nagana, a disease of ungulates, later shown by David Bruce (of Brucella
fame) to be caused by trypanosomes. Ehrlich had also exhibited a passing
interest in these compounds, and this was rekindled in 1905 by a report from the
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine that one arsenical, atoxyl,
protected mice from trypanosomal infection. Ehrlich resumed research into
arsenical compounds and visited the Liverpool School in 1907.
Nagana Atoxyl Salvarsan Melasroprol
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