Emil von Behring, the first Nobel Prize winning doctor in medicine

Emil von Behring

Since the beginning of creation, mankind has been subject to nature. It was this nature that had to be relied upon to fight the difficult path of survival. An unknown nature, from whose terrible form mankind has to fight to save its life. Our today’s discussion in Emil von Behring who is the first Noble prize winning physician.

Through the spread of knowledge and science, man has learned to defend himself, to control nature within certain limits, and while controlling it, ungrateful mankind has not hesitated to oppress nature. As a result, the rampage of adverse effects of nature has become the cause of human damage at various times.

New information has emerged in various studies about the diseases of the human body. New medical systems are in the hands of doctors. Medicine has learned to understand the nature of disease through long studies at the cost of many lives.

Once realized, the existence of invisible germs surrounding us – which cannot be seen with the naked eye. Not only the existence that is perceived; They have found ways to destroy them, even developed resistance against these invisible germs. Many thinkers have contributed in bringing this centuries old medicine to the present day. Their achievements are closely related to medical science.

One such thinker, Emile von Behring; Physiologist by profession. He is well known for his discovery of antitoxin in blood and his outstanding success in the treatment of diphtheria. He was born on March 15, 1854, in what was then West Prussia (now Poland). He was the eldest among 12 brothers and sisters, and after supporting the whole family on the meager salary of his father, a school teacher, little money was saved. His father had little ability to send his children to university.

While at school, Behring discovered his passion for medicine. Meanwhile, one of Behring’s teachers arranged for his admission to the Friedrich-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. At that time, medicine could be studied at this institute completely free of charge, but instead of passing out, one had to serve ten years in the then Prussian army.

Without thinking anything else, Behring enrolled there in 1874. After that, he did not have to look back, destiny instead pulled him forward. As a result of hard work and perseverance, Emil von Bering established himself as a pioneer.

After obtaining his medical certificate, he passed the state medical examination and joined the Prussian army in 1880 as a physician. Medical science has just begun to understand the germs of disease, but this inaccessible road has a long way to go.

He got a lot of time in the army to study diseases caused by invisible germs in the human body. He always wondered if it would be possible to develop a disinfectant that would protect against microbial-based diseases.

He also researched iodoform for a long time while serving in the army. He hypothesizes that although this iodoform is not capable of killing germs, it may be able to stop the damage being done by germs inside the body.

He raised several questions about it in his first research paper. As soon as that research paper was seen by the high-ranking officers of the army, everyone understood that Behring’s place was not in the army. In medicine, prevention is better than cure.

They believe that if Behring gets the right environment, he will be able to develop resistance to the disease and bring the epidemic under control. It will also benefit the army a lot. He was sent to the pharmacologist Karl Binge for advanced training in medical research.

After training there for six long years, he returned to Berlin, joining the Berlin Health Center; As an assistant to Robert Koch. There he met the Japanese bacteriologist Kitasato Shibasaburo.

An important chapter in medicine is ‘Immune System’; It has not yet become strong. Emil von Behring is one of the researchers who brought the immune system of the human body under scientific control.

Emile Roux and Alexandre Yersin, two researchers working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, showed that if the blood of a patient with diphtheria was purified on filter paper, the purified fluid, when injected into a healthy body without bacteria, began to show symptoms of diphtheria.

They thought that the bacteria must have produced some toxic substance that the filter paper could not filter out. And in the presence of these toxic substances, people are getting infected with diphtheria. This toxic substance is still known as ‘diphtheria toxin’, which is secreted by the bacteria that cause diphtheria.

In the meantime, Ludwig Brieger and Carl Frankel showed that they were able to isolate a substance from a petri dish culture of diphtheria bacteria, which, when injected into guinea pigs, did not become infected with diphtheria. They named these substances ‘Toxalbumin’.

In the light of all these studies, Mr. Behring became worried. He began to wonder if it would be possible to create a disinfectant that would kill germs when injected into an animal’s body. Whatever thought was done, he again concentrated on research.

After a long study, Behring and Shibasaburo together published an invaluable paper, which discussed the defense against diphtheria and scurvy in animals. In their research, they found that when an animal is recovering from the disease, the presence of an invisible substance in the blood of the infected person builds up resistance against the disease. Behring and Shibasaburo named it ‘antitoxin’. Later, when the antibody was discovered, it turned out to be the antitoxin.

They also noticed that if blood is taken from an animal recovered from diphtheria and given to another animal, those animals are no longer affected by diphtheria. And if that blood is given to animals suffering from diphtheria, it is possible to cure them quickly.

In various animals diphtheria is cured by serum or plasma therapy, used as a diphtheria vaccine in healthy animals. In the later period, through the use of this therapy in human body, it can be seen that the death rate of diphtheria and scurvy has decreased to some extent.

Many years later, in 1898, Bering and colleagues Wernick found that the diphtheria toxin produced by diphtheria bacteria could be neutralized by mixing it with antitoxin. And if the mixture is introduced into an animal, then an anti-diphtheria environment will also develop in that animal.

In the meantime, Theobald Smith proposed in 1907 that it is possible to use the toxin-antitoxin mixture as a diphtheria vaccine in the same way as the resistance to diphtheria has been developed in animals.

Behring also thought that if the contaminated blood of an infected person and the antitoxin from a recovered person were mixed and administered to a completely healthy person, it might be possible to develop immunity against diphtheria in that body.

There was a rumor about this in medicine. Later, in 1913, Mr. Behring first saw the light of success. He mixes the toxin-antitoxin together and purifies the mixture in such a way that everything poisonous in it is neutralized. He mentioned that the mixture is also suitable for use as a diphtheria vaccine in the human body.

Behring received many awards and honors during a successful career. In the meantime, he was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1901 for his discovery of the method of using the serum or plasma of diphtheria-infected animals as a diphtheria vaccine. He was also awarded the title of ‘Children’s Savior’ or ‘Children’s Savior’ for his important contribution in the discovery of ‘antitoxin’ and the preparation of vaccines.

He also did a lot of research on tuberculosis towards the end of his life. In 1913, after successfully testing the use of diphtheria vaccine in humans, he established a laboratory in Marburg, Germany, the following year. This is where the commercialization of diphtheria vaccine started. As a result, Mr. Behring also became famous financially.

He died of pneumonia on 31 March 1917 in Marburg.

Medical science is still blind to vaccines or the human body’s immune system. The researchers may not have imagined that the above-mentioned researches are gradually going to give rise to a new process in medicine. Little did they think, this medical system was going to lead the next century of defense against germs.

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Author: Sadia Khanam Tonni

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