A First Cure for Syphilis

Introduction - Historical Notes

A First Cure for Syphilis

For centuries, syphilis was treated with mercury (in the form of ointments, oral medication, and vapor baths). In the course of the 19th century, the more serviceable potassium iodide came to be used, but even this did not make a real difference. A truly effective and healthy treatment simply did not exist. Not only thousands of ordinary people, but many famous historical personalities died of syphilis. Eventually, the basis for an effective treatment was laid by German scientists in the early 20th century.
In 1905,
Fritz Schaudinn discovered the causative agent of syphilis, the bacterium treponema pallidum.
Only one year later, in 1906,
August von Wassermann developed the test which is still named after him. This “Wassermann test” allowed the early discovery of a syphilitic infection.
Finally, in 1910, the German medical researcher
Paul Ehrlich and his Japanese assistant Sachahiro Hata, after hundreds of trials, came up with the first effective cure, an arsenic compound they called “Salvarsan”. Later, Ehrlich developed an improved version called “Neosalvarsan”. Soon he was widely celebrated as the conqueror of syphilis. For his work in immunology, Ehrlich had already received a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1908.

Fritz Schaudinn (1871-1906)

August von Wassermann

Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915)
and Sachahiro Hata (1873-1938)

[Course 4] [Description] [How to use it] [Introduction] [Terms] [General Description] [Historical Notes] [Curable STDs] [Incurable STDs] [STD Prevention] [Additional Reading] [Examination]