Capsule

From the field of battle, an early strike at cancer

At the start of World War II, the U.S. government asked Yale to study chemical warfare agents. Building on research that had languished for years, two young scientists found in a derivative of mustard gas the first effective chemotherapy for cancer.

Early in 1942 two young assistant professors in Yale’s new Department of Pharmacology, Louis S. Goodman, M.D., and Alfred Gilman, Ph.D., took on the study of nitrogen mustard. This agent was derived from a lethal gas used in the trenches of World War I, and the United States, which had just entered World War II, feared it might again be used in battle. By year’s end, the two young scientists had found in an agent of death a medicine with lifesaving possibilities. Their use of nitrogen mustard with a human patient ushered in a new era of cancer treatment. “This was the first patient in the world treated by chemotherapy,” said David S. Fischer, M.D., clinical professor of medicine, who gave a talk on the history...

Read more...


 
Download on the Apple App Store