Oct 1, 1957
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
The work of Gerhard Domagk, discoverer of the antibacterial activity of sulfonamide compounds, was first published in 1935. I t marked the beginning of the epoch in which, by the use of either chemotherapeutic compounds or antibiotic agents, therapeutic control of the major infectious diseases produced by bacterial invaders and, in certain instances, by protozoa, has been achieved. Domagk’s discovery and the subsequent work of scientists in other countries robbed streptococcal and meningococcal meningitis of their terrors, reduced the case fatality rate in pneumococcal pneumonia by two thirds, provided an entirely new approach to the treatment of urinary tract infections, and brought about prompt recovery in a host of other infectious processes. The fact that sulfonamides had proved their effectiveness spurred Howard Florey and his group to the study of other sources of antibacterial agents, which led, in turn, to the discovery of penicillin. Truly, Domagk’s work opened a new chapter in man’s long fight against disease and death. I n recent years, however, as one “miracle” antibiotic has succeeded another, sulfonamides, while still widely used, no longer are given the attention they once received. For this reason, and because of the development of two new sulfonamide compounds, it was considered desirable and reasonable to scient isls and clinicians to hold a conference in order to re-evaluate the use of sulfonamides in present-day therapeutics. Domagk’s contribution to this monograph, based on that conference, is particularly welcome.