Medicine: Limited Wonder

When Rutgers University's Microbiologist Selman Waksman first described neomycin, an antibiotic produced by soil microbes (TIME, April 4, 1949), it gave promise of being another wonder drug. Then came the blow: when injected over long periods, e.g.) in the treatment of tuberculosis, neomycin damaged the kidneys, sometimes caused lasting deafness. Many researchers gave up on it.

Last week U.S. doctors read in the A.M.A. Journal that neomycin fills one niche most capably: it is just about the best drug so far discovered for treating an infinite variety of skin infections. Three doctors in...

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