Vedere la Scienza Festival

Science TV Drama festival

Milano   5/10/2002 - 6/10/2002

Milano, Teatro Grassi - Via Rovello

Microbes and Men - The search for the magic bullet



  1. Original Title: Microbes and Men - The search for the magic bullet
  2. Author: Martin Worth
  3. Director: Denis Postle
  4. Editor: Roy Fry, Dan Rae
  5. Photography: John Else
  6. Music: Dudley Simpson
  7. Starring:
    Milo O’Shea (Paul Ehrlich)
    Michael Gough (Sir Almroth Wright)
    Stephanie Bidmead (Hedwig Ehrlich)
    Clifford Rose (Herxmeier)
  8. Producer: Peter Goodchild
  9. Production: BBC Time-Life Co-Production
  10. United Kingdom
  11. 56 min.
  12. 1976

The first decade of the XXth century. While in England Almroth Edward Wright obtains from the hesitant General Staff the vaccination of soldiers against the typhus, in German Paul Erlich is searching the "magic bullet", able to overcome mortal diseases for that period, above all syphilis. The most brillant disciple of Wright, was A. Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.


Wright and Erlich have two different approaches and an unique aim: the overcoming of infectious diseases; Wright trys to activate the body protections, Erlich is searching for the magic bullet in order to wipe out the desease. Erlich, a pioneer of modern biochemistry, starting from the hypothesis that life processes can be studied as chemical reactions, was convinced of the link between some life tissues and some chemical substances. After the discovery of the bacterium of the syphilis, Treponema pallidum, he inoculated new medicines in rabbits and monkeys. In collaboration with the japanese researcher Sahakiro Hata, Erlich found the compound 914 with arsenic, able to eliminate syphilis, but responsable of important side effects. It was sold as Neosalvaran. Furthermore, Erlich unterstood that bacteriums modify themselves in order to neutralize the medicines. Erlich was involved in a heated controversy, being accused to use whores as human cavies for his researches. At the process, he was finally acquited, but he was psicologically proved.


In 1909 Erlich and I.I.Mecnikov were the winners of the Nobel Price for medicine an phisiology .

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