Wednesday, December 12, 2012

General anesthetic research - a dangerous proposition

To start you off, here's a quote from Franks (2006) in the British Journal of Pharmacology:

"The discovery of general anaesthesia is a remarkable story rich with human tales of serendipity, impropriety, noble ambition and inflated egos...Horace Wells hit upon the idea of using nitrous oxide while watching a public demonstration of its powers of intoxication  Having satisfied himself by self-administration that it ameliorated the pain of tooth extraction, he conducted an abortive demonstration..and was publicly humiliated by this failure. A former apprentice and colleague of Wells, another dentist called William Morton subsequently took up Wells’ basic idea of a gaseous anaesthetic agent, together with the suggestion of chemist and physician Charles Jackson to use ether, a much more potent drug, and this culminated in the public demonstration of ether anaesthesia on 16 October 1846  There followed several years of unedifying wrangling between Jackson, Morton and Wells as to who deserved credit for the discovery of general anaesthesia, with Wells eventually committing suicide, Jackson dying in an insane asylum and Morton dying penniless of a heart attack at the age of 48."

Clearly, if you study anesthetics you're in for a good time!


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