24 – Caventou, Pelletier and Quinne

Taking their cue from Sertürner’s alkaloidal experiments, two French pharmacists, Messrs. Pierre-Joseph Pelletier and Joseph-Bienaimé Caventou, isolated emetine from ipecacuanha in 1817; strychnine and brucine from nux vomica in 1818; then, in their laboratory in the back of a Parisian apothecary shop, they tackled the problem that had baffled scientists for decades – wresting the secrets of the Peruvian barks that were so useful against malaria. In 1820 Caventou and Pelletier announced the methods for separation of quinine and cinchonine from the cinchona barks; prepared pure salts, had them tested clinically, and set up manufacturing facilities. Many other discoveries came from their pharmacy-laboratory; high honors were accorded them.

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