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Drug News Perspect. 2001 Oct;14(8):491-4.

The discovery and synthesis of epinephrine.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.


Epinephrine (adrenaline) was the first hormone to be isolated. The events leading up to this were initiated by experiments conducted by an English physician on his son. The active compound of epinephrine was isolated as an iron complex and marketed in 1900 by Farbwerke Hoechst as Suprarenin. In 1901, Parke-Davis began to market Adrenalin, the manufacturing of which was challenged by rival companies. Further analysis of the product revealed a lack of purity, and further chemical structures were proposed. In 1906, Hoechst began production of synthetic epinephrine, the introduction of which made the hormone more cheaply available on the market. Although the hormone had initially been marketed as a vasoconstrictor to stop bleeding and to raise blood pressure in patients experiencing surgical shock, its main application had been the treatment of asthmatic attacks. Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) was discovered in 1907 to be not only a biosynthetic precursor of epinephrine, but also a neurotransmitter.


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