origins of the SPF lie in the antimalarial
research of the 1940s. During World War
II, the United States government issued
a desperate call to scientists and doctors:
find a treatment for malaria! Since Japan
had taken over most of the world's supply
of quinine-the best known treatment-Allied
forces in the Pacific Theater needed a new
drug, and fast.
by Dr. James Shannon,
scientists at Goldwater Memorial Hospital
in New York City and elsewhere tested thousands
of drugs during the war. In many of the
tests, doctors gave their subjects malarial
fever, then injected the patients with a
particular drug. They needed to make sure
the drug reached the malarial parasites
in the blood and learn how to adjust the
dosages to avoid nasty side effects.
Bernard Brodie and Sidney
Udenfriend of Goldwater developed a
special test. They knew that many of the
candidate drugs would fluoresce when excited
by certain wavelengths of ultraviolet
(UV) light. With an instrument
called a fluorometer, they could measure
how much of the drug was in a patient's
plasma sample by measuring the intensity
of its glow. They thus found the critical
level at which a promising drug, such as
Atabrine, would attack the malaria-causing
parasites without causing adverse side effects
for the patient. Their results determined
the standard dosage used by the U.S. armed
forces as a preventative for malaria.
The problem was that some candidate drugs
did not fluoresce at the specific wavelengths
available to them with their fluorometer,
and therefore these drugs were undetectable
in the plasma. The doctors could not use
fluorescence as a way of "seeing,"
or measuring, these drugs in the body. There
had been reports of fluorescence at other
wavelengths, but at the time there were
no commercially available sensitive UV fluorometers.
Though they did come up with a treatment
for malaria, the Goldwater scientists realized
that their ideas reached beyond their tools.
They needed a new type of instrument.
The National Heart Institute
Laboratory chiefs in the 1960s includes
several members of the Goldwater group who
worked with Dr. James A. Shannon
an instrument called a fluorometer, they
could measure how much of the drug was in
a patient's plasma sample.
Coleman filter fluorometer
needed a new type of instrument.