Paul Ehrlich and Microscopic Study of Blood Cells

Paul Ehrlich and Microscopic Study of Blood Cells

Contents
1. Introduction
2. Biography of Paul Ehrlich
3. First scientific achievements
4. Paul Ehrlich’s contribution in the research of eosinophil
5. Paul Ehrlich’s researches of the molecular structure of blood cells
6. Conclusion
7. Bibliography

Introduction
Paul Ehrlich is one of the most outstanding chemists of his epochs. His researchers produce a significant impact on the development of science in the years to follow. At the same time, his most significant researchers referred to the study of blood cells, their structure and functions. In fact, he focused his work on the research of blood cells with the help of technologies which were quite advanced and this is really remarkable that he managed to make his discoveries and accomplish many of his works on researching blood cells with the help of a microscope. For a contemporary scientist it seems to be practically impossible to do the same and, from such a point of view, the work of Paul Ehrlich and his achievements are really impressive.
This is why it is necessary to research and discuss his work at large and his study of blood cells in particular in order to properly evaluate his contribution in the development of the contemporary science and assess his skills and as a prominent scientist of his epoch.
Biography of Paul Ehrlich
In fact, it is hardly possible to properly assess the contribution of a scientist without the general information about his life and work. Obviously, a brief overview of his biography is essential since it helps better understood what a person was Paul Ehrlich and what fields he worked in and, what is more, it will probably help to understand how he managed to make his discoveries.
First of all, it should be said that Paul Ehrlich was born on 14 March 1854, in Strehlen Silesia. At the early age he had already revealed his gift and inclinations to sciences and chemistry was his favorite one. Being a schoolboy and later a student, he was particularly interested in staining microscopic tissues substances. On completing his clinical education he habilitated in Charite Berlin but soon he received a call from Robert Koch to join the Institute for Infectious Diseases in Berlin in 1891.
Probably, this event to a significant extent defined his further researches because since that moment it had become obvious that he would totally focus his attention on medicine and chemistry and naturally will continue to work on his favorite problem of staining microscopic tissue substances which had interested him since his youth. However, he had got health problems and had to spend two years in Egypt recovering from tuberculosis. Thereafter he worked with his friend Emil Adolf von Bering on the development of diphtheria serum.
In fact, these studies inspired his famous side-chain theory which explained the effects of serum and enabled measurements of the amount of antigen. Not surprisingly that in 1896 Paul Ehrlich became the director of the newly founded Institute of Serum Research and Examination. Three years later the institute moved to Frankfurt and extended into the Royal Institute of Experimental Therapy, where Paul Ehrlich researched chemotherapy and infectious diseases. In 1904 he became honorary professor of the University of Gottingen.
In four years he received the Noble prize for medicine. In 1906 he discovered the structural formula of atoxyl, a chemical compound that had been shown to be able to treat sleeping sickness. Soon after this discovery he tried to create a less toxic version of the medicament. In 1909 he and his student Sahachiro Hata developed Salvarsan, a treatment effective against syphilis. This was one of his most significant works since it stimulated researches that led to the development of sulfa drugs, penicillin, and other antibiotics.
Paul Ehrlich died from a stroke in 1915, at the age of 61.
First scientific achievements
In spite of his numerous achievements and scientific discoveries, Paul Ehrlich was particularly successful in the microscopic research of blood cells. It should be pointed out that the research of blood cells was very important at the late 19th century since it could help better realize the mechanism of work of blood cells, as well as the mechanism of spread of infectious diseases and what is more important the ways of their prevention. In such a situation it is hardly possible to underestimate the work of Paul Ehrlich and the contribution he made in the development of researches of blood cells.
In fact, he was interested in the microscopic research of blood cells when he was just a student. However, at the beginning of his scientific career it was not so easy to use microscopes efficiently in researches and, consequently, their results were not always reliable and precise. In this respect some improvements in microscopy made in that epoch turned to be very useful and Paul Ehrlich managed to fully realize the potential of microscopy of that epoch. To put it more precisely, the morphology of the fixed blood cells began to be “examined using thin films of blood, spread and dried on glass slides, which were then stained with aniline dyes that differentially stained the nuclei and granules of the leukocytes” (1).
As it has been already mentioned above, the study of staining of microscopic tissue substances extremely interested Paul Ehrlich and not surprisingly that staining of peripheral blood smears was developed by him in 1877 when he was just a student in the University studying medicine. In his early researches he “identified the neurophils, basophils, and acidophils on the basis of the staining of their granules” (2). The development of supervital dyes provided a method for assessment of erythropoiesis by reticulocyte counts. These techniques permitted the great progress of morphologic hematology and treatment of many blood diseases such as the leukemia and the various types of anemia were described on the basis of typical morphological findings.
Paul Ehrlich’s contribution in the research of eosinophil
The research of eosinophil by Paul Ehrlich is worthy of a particular attention since it was one of the most significant scientific works of this specialist. It should be said that eosinophil is a type of white blood cell which was first recognized by Paul Ehrlich. In fact it is due to Paul Ehrlich that the structure of eosinophil was revealed and briefly it may be presented in the image 1 and image 2
Iasically, Paul Ehrlich found out that the eosinophil has, on average, bilobed nuclei and its cytoplasm is filled with approximately 200 large granules containing enzymes and proteins with different functions (3), which though were not fully revealed and understood by the researcher at that time. In such a way, Paul Ehrlich made a very important discovery and created the basis for the further researches scientists would have worked on for decades since the death of this prominent specialist.
Paul Ehrlich’s researchers of the molecular structure of blood cells
However, it should be pointed out that Paul Ehrlich made a great contribution in the research of the molecular structure of blood cells at large. In fact, he believed that the molecular structures of compounds were extremely important in biological processes. In his researches, he “envisioned the dance molecules in and around cells as the key to the chemistry of disease and its treatment” (4). Paul Ehrlich stood on the ground that chemical compounds had to attach themselves to the structures of other chemical compounds of cells to have an effect upon the processes of life and diseases (5).
To put it more precisely, on researching and analyzing blood cells, he pictured cells as surrounded by a series of chemical ‘side chain’ structures through which the cell could capture nutrients and other needed substances and bring them into the cell. In fact, it was through these side chains molecular structures that Paul Ehrlich believed the toxic substances produced by bacteria gained access to the cell and thereby caused disease (6).
In return, he viewed the immune response of the body to such an attack by the toxin through a side chain as a flood of more side chains. The body would produce scores of ‘side chains’ with just the right structure to react with the specific bacterial toxins, would bind toxins up, and thus prevent the toxins from reaching the side chains of cells. These responding side chains, which in actuality were antibodies, would counterattack the specific toxins and render the person ‘immune’ (7).
In such a way, on researching blood cells with the help of microscope, Paul Ehrlich made a significant leap forward in the chemical understanding of disease and its treatment. His key insight was to think of a particular molecular structure of a substance as leading to specific biological effects. In this respect it is interesting to note that he even had a dream to discover magic bullets, i.e. the compounds with specific structures for combating specific diseases and that would leave all else alone.
However, Paul Ehrlich did not fully realize his dream but it is probably due to this dream he found compounds effective in treating diseases like malaria and sleeping sickness, which are caused by protozoan parasites, but these were only partially effective. He came much closer to his ideal of the magic bullet when he found compounds of arsenic effective against the bacterium that caused syphilis, but still it was not what he really was researching for (8).
Conclusion
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Paul Ehrlich made a great contribution to the development of modern science, especially chemistry and medicine. It should be pointed out that since early age he had been working on the microscopic research of blood cells that, to a significant extent, defined the area he would have been working in his entire life. At the same time, his profound interest stimulated his scientific progress and made him quite famous at relatively young age. However, it is worthy to note that it is only due to his talent and profound interest to science that he made his discoveries it is also due to the technological progress for without the improvement of microscopy he could hardly achieve such impressing results.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to emphasize that without his genius all technological inventions would be useless since his discoveries impress even contemporary scientists. This is why it is very important to realize that his hard work on the microscopic research of blood cells as well as his scientific work at large should be fully recognized and properly assessed. In fact, it is due to Paul Ehrlich that nowadays numerous diseases the mankind has suffered from for centuries are curable at the present moment and what is even more important is the fact that his researches and findings created ample opportunities for further researches of those fields which Paul Ehrlich did not fully researched or understood.

Bibliography:
1. Smith, Edgar Fahs, 1997. Paul Ehrlich: Courtesy. New York: Random House, 105-112
2. Lucas WP, 1984 Fleichner EC Diseases of the blood. In: Abt IA (ed) Pediatrics. WB Saunders Co, Philadelphia, 406–518
3. Wintrobe MM 1980 Blood, pure and eloquent. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1–31
4. Pochedley C 1985 Emergence of pediatric hematology as an independent specialty. Am J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 11: 183–189
5. Baar HS, et al. 1963 Disorders of Blood and Blood Forming Organs. New York, Hafner Publishing Co, 189-193
6. Oski FA, Naiman JL 1966 Hematologic Problems. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, 220-223
7. Wallerstein H 1996 Erythroblastosis and its treatment. Lancet 2: 922–924.
8. Herrick JB 1990 Peculiar elongated and sickle-shaped red blood corpuscles in a case of severe anemia. Trans Assoc Am Physicians 6: 517–521