Medicine: How Sulfa-Drugs Work

Without any real understanding of how sulfa-drugs overcome infections, doctors have been freely using them ever since Dr. Gerhard Domagk of Germany discovered prontosil, forerunner of sulfanilamide, in 1932.* But the mystery of their effectiveness has recently been cleared up by a series of discoveries reviewed in a recent issue of the British Medical Journal.

Discoverer of the mechanism of sulfa-therapy is Bacteriologist Paul Fildes of London. Certain bacteria, he found, mistake the sulfa-drugs for a vitaminlike substance—probably of the vitamin B complex—which they need for growth. Consuming the pseudo-vitamin instead of...

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