Biology in Human Affairs

By Edward M. East; Walter V. Bingham et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter VII


THE evolution of medicine since the time of the Edwin Smith Papyrus ( 2400 B.C.) is a record of gradually developing knowledge built from the contributions of thousands of workers in every nation of the world. Whenever a new discovery is made, the way is opened for innumerable contributions by men who have not, perhaps, the ingenuity or originality to develop a new conception for themselves but who may, in the laboratory or in the clinic, follow a thought or a technic set forth by another observer. Thus, the discovery of a new vaccine, serum, or antitoxin for one condition may lead to the application of similar technic for other diseases. The development of a method of making visible an internal organ or cavity, as is done with the special dye substance used in the case of the gall bladder or with lipiodol in outlining the bladder, the uterus, or the sinuses, leads the way to similar investigations in other viscera and tissues.

The invention of new devices, such as the microscope, the stethoscope, or electrocardiograph, brings about the application of the devices and technic to the study of various conditions. The announcement of the isolation of a chemotherapeutic preparation, such as salvarsan or arsphenamine, leads the way to the development of combinations of similar character applied to different diseases. The isolation of a chemical principle, as from the thyroid or the pancreas, stimulates similar work on other glands


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