29 August, 2008

Ube city

Photo: Many plants and factories of Ube industries Ltd are seen along Ube port.
Photo: fish ships in Ube harbor.
Photo: The bridge in Ube bay, not for public use, constructed
by Ube Industries Ltd, for transportation of the raw
cement materials .

Profile of Ube city:
Location : see google map,
                 south-west of Yamaguchi, west from Hiroshima.
Population: 176,000
Birth rate: 1,600/year
Numbers of Pediatric clinic: 13 clinic (including me).

                Previously known as a coal-mining town. Now the coals are 
                imported from Australia. and Ube is one of the largest storage 
                site of coal in Japan.

                UBE Industries Ltd and its group is major company, the total 
                employee is around 11,000.     
                It produce ; polyolefin, synthetic rubber, caprolactam, nylon 
                resins, fine chemical and Nitrogen fertilizer. clinker, 
                ready-mixed concrete, building materials and magnesium. 
                die casting machines, injection molding machines, 
                aluminum wheels et ct.

University: Yamaguchi University(National). the faculty of medicine and
                  University Hospital(740 beds) , Faculty of engineering.

27 August, 2008

British media and Dr. Fleming(5)

On 19 June 1944, Dr. Florey sent a letter to the Secretory of the Medical

       Dear Mellanby,

             I am writing to you to see if it is possible for you to help me out 
       of what has become a somewhat intolerable position ------
       It has long been a source of irritation to us all here to witness the
        unscrupulous campaign carried on from St. Mary's calmly to credit
        Fleming with all the work done here --- My policy here has  been
        never to interview the Press or allow them to get any information
        from us even by telephone

       ---- in contrast, Fleming has been interviewed apparently without 
       cease, photographed, etc, ------ with the upshot that he is being put 
       over as ' the discoverer of penicillin'(which is true)  with the 
       implication that he did all the work leading to the discovery of its 
       chemotherapeutic properties (which is not true) -----

       You of course know how dishonest this is and might reply 'why
       worry'. This has been our line and would continue to be if it were 
       not that my colleagues here feel things are going much too far 
       --- I have always asked people who say ' why don't you do some
       -thing?'  what should I do. I will not go to in for press publicity 
       and no-one questions the rightness of that. 

       The only suggestion which has been made of which I approve 
       is that the Medical Research Council should issue a statement 
       putting out the reverent facts of how penicillin was really intro
       -duced into medicine--- it is the only body likely to have the 
       slightest influence on the Mary's propaganda.

         I realise I am in great danger of being accused of trying to 'get 
       something for myself'. This really is not the case and I hope I have 
       always made it clear how much was due to the workers  here.
       Nor should anyone suppose that we think we have performed any
        great intellectual feats here. All we did was to do some decent 
       experiments and have the luck to hit on a substance with astonish
       -ing properties -----
                                                                            Yours sincerely,

 To this appeal Mellanby replied on 20 June, as follows:

       Dear Florey
            I was glad to have the conversation with you the other day 
        about the difficult position in which you and your colleagues
        at Oxford find yourselves, owing to the unusual attitude 
        Fleming has taken up in response to the public acclamation 
        of penicillin discoveries.

          I want to assure you in writing, as I did orally, that I think 
        the reticence as regards press interviews and the fairness 
        and even generosity in apportioning credit to Fleming of 
        all in your laboratory have been excellent and above criticism, 
        and whether judged from a short term or long term point 
        of view are, I am convinced, the most desirable. 

        You need have no doubt whatever in your mind that scientific 
        men,in this country at last, and doubtless most of them in 
        other countries, have appraised the situation correctly and 
        know that, from the point of view of scientific merit, your 
        work and that of your colleagues stand on a much higher 
        level than that of Fleming.

           I realise how irritating your position must be, if you are at 
         all affected by what appears in the public press, but you can 
         be quite certain that this is an ephemeral reaction which 
         means little or nothing, and the only appreciation which is
         worth bothering about is that of your scientific peers. 

         In time, even the public will realise that in the development 
         of this story of penicillin, the thing that has mattered most  
         has been the persistent and highly meritorious work of your 
         laboratory. The dish you have turned out is so good that 
         you must swallow the rather nauseating but temporary 
         publicity ingredient with a smile.
                                                                         Yours sincerely,

This letter could have brought little comfort to Florey or, in its counsel, 
to his Oxford colleagues who had passively to watch Fleming's meteoric 
aggrandizement 'with a smile', and to accept the fact that the greater their 
own success with penicillin the more honours--scientific and academic--- 
would be heaped on Fleming.

Mellanby probably was right in some aspects of his letter and certainly 
wrong in others. He rightly avoided embroiling the Medical Research 
Council in a wrangle about credit ------  Mellanby, in fact, underestimated 
the power of the press and the durability of a myth, and overestimated the
influence of leading scientists.

I would like to finish the story of the British media and the 
discovery of penicillin therapy,especially about Dr. Fleming 
and Dr. Florey. At present, the situation about the relationship 
between Mass media and medical knowledge or doctors have 
been dramatically changed ?

My answer is NO. Mass media still focus in human stories, 
but not in facts, or true stories. Basically there is no change 
in human nature.

Any questions:  write to Keiji Hagiwara, M.D.
                                      Kami-Ube Pediatric Clinic

Lysozyme and Dr. Fleming

Photo:  Lysozyme tablets extracted from Egg-white.

Lysozyme(tablet, powder and syrup) have been , still, 
prescribed by doctors in Japan.  It is an enzyme which 
is discovered by Dr. Alexander Fleming in 1922.  
He described ------

              The lysozyme was first noticed during some investigation made 
              on a patient suffering from coryza. The nasal secretion from this
              patient was cultivated daily on blood agar plates, and for the first 
              three days of the infection there was no growth, with exception 
              an occasional staphylococcus colony.
             The culture made from the nasal mucus on the fourth day showed 
             in 24 hours a large number of small colonies which, on examination, 
             proved to be large gram-positive cocci----   The microbe has not 
             been exactly identified but for the purposes of this communication 
             it may be alluded to as the  Micrococcus lysodeiktics.

             -----  These two preliminary experiments clearly demonstrate 
             the very powerful inhibitory and lytic action which the nasal mucus 
             has upon the M. lysodeikticus. It will be shown later that this power 
             is shared by most of the tissue and secretions of the human body,
             by the tissues of other animals, by vegetable tissues, and, to very
             marked degree, by egg-white.

Ref) Alexander Fleming: The Man and the Myth. Oxford University Press. 

Later studies showed that the pathogenic bacteria, such as 
staphylococci, streptococci and E. coli, did not lysis by this 
enzyme.   Cat have few lysozyme in tear and gastro-intestinal 
tube, and Sheep have no lysozyme in tear and intestine. 
However, these animals are healthy.  Thus lysozyme is not the 
major defense substances against bacterias.

Any questions: write to Keiji Hagiwara, MD                                          

26 August, 2008

British media and Dr. Fleming(4)


But Florey had not been inactive. On 11 December 1942  he wrote to
Sir Henry Dale, then President of the Royal Society:

          as you know here has been a lot of most undesirable publicity
         in the newspapers and press generally about penicillin. I have 
         taken a firm line here and said there was to be nothing whatever
         done in the matter of interviews with press or in any other ways.

        Gardner, I know, thinks that I have been rather wrong about this.
         I had a letter from Fleming in which he assured me he was
         endeavoring to do the same and I accepted that at its face value
        and thought that this newspaper publicity would cease.

        I have now quite good evidence, from the Director-General of the
        B.B.C. in fact, and also indirectly from some people at St. Mary's
        that Fleming is doing his best to see the whole subject is presented
        as having been foreseen and worked out by Fleming and that we in
       this department just did a few final flourishes.

        You can see what I mean in the article published in' Britain Today',
         complete with photographs of Fleming and so on. This steady
         propaganda seems to be having its effect even on scientific people
         in that several have now said to us, ' But I thought you done 
         something on penicillin too'.

Florey then wet on to ask Dale's advice on the possible publicity of an article
setting out the true facts----- a suggestion urged on him by his Oxford 
colleagues.  Dale replied promptly and firmly. He asked Florey not to publish 
anything that might seem to be a refutation of statements attributed to 

He pointed out that Florey was a member of the Council of the Royal Society, 
and would thus soon have to act as one of the judges of candidates for election 
to the Fellowship of the Society. Fleming was a candidate, and any public 
dispute between Fleming and Florey at this time would prejudice the complete 
impartiality with which Fleming's claim to be worth of election must be

Florey accepted this edit from the President of the Society, to which he had 
himself been elected less than two years before. He remained silent, therefore, 
in the matter of Fleming's publicity campaign, and did not divulge the reason 
for his silence even to his closest colleagues. Fleming was duly elected to the 
Royal Society in March 1943 and, with his perverse sense of humor, he might 
have appreciated the supreme irony of a situation that enforced Florey's 
silence while his own scientific advancement was ensured.

Thereafter the 'Fleming Myth' continued to grow on an international scale, 
and Florey, in response to continued pressure from his Oxford colleagues, 
made another attempt to persuade an independent and authoritative body 
to publish the truth,

British media and Dr.Fleming(3)

Journalists are sometimes more concerned with the creation of a good 
story than with the strict accuracy of their information, and good stories 
tend to be copied and embellished. Fleming took an active part in this 
continued publicity. 

Interviews and articles appeared in every sort of periodical from Tit-Bits
 to Picture Post( which named him 'Man of the Year'). He kept cuttings 
of all of them and seems to have derived sort of impish glee from their
wilder inaccuracies.

  'All the false stories invented by journalists and others were in a special 
file to make up what we called the "Fleming Myth".... The more unlikely 
they were the more they appealed to him.'  Why the 'Fleming Myth' was 
allowed to grow unchecked is again mostly a matter of conjecture. 

It seems that nothing was done by Fleming himself, nor by anyone at St. 
Mary's Hospital, to collect or even to stop the continued publication of 
these false stories, which have become so embedded in tradition that 
even senior members of the St. Mary's Hospital staff have clearly taken 
them to be true.

   Fleming, of course, gained from myth a world-wide fame and gratitude. 
Behind Fleming there were two very strong characters: Almroth Wright, 
who was intensely ambitious for his department; and Lord Moran, personal 
physician to Winston Churchill, and the Dean of St. Mary's Hospital Medical
School, whose dearest wish was for its honour, glory, and financial security.  
And somewhere in this organization one suspects the activities of a most 
efficient Public Relations Officer.

25 August, 2008

British media and Dr.Fleming(2)

continued ---------
   Florey's reaction to this contentious publicity was one of horror.
When, following Robinson's letter, the reporters descended on the
Dunn School he refused to see them. There was more behind this
reaction than a personal dislike of publicity. 

He knew that sensational stories about penicillin would create a 
demand that could not possibly be satisfied at that time, and wold 
thus lead to tragic disappointments. He knew also that limelight is 
bad for research workers, being distracting and disruptive, and did 
notwant his team to be exposed to it.

Finally, there was at that time a strong ethical disapproval of doctors 
who advertised themselves or their work by giving personal interviews
to the lay press; the General Medical Council had been known to strike
such offenders off the Medical Register. 

Florey would not be liable to such strong measures since he was not in 
clinical practice, but a disinclination to talk to the press was general 
throughout the medical profession. So Florey told Mrs. Turner to send 
the reporters away; and it was not unnatural that they should have gone, 
somewhat resentfully, to an obviously warmer welcome,e at St. Mary's 

 During the nest two years scores of articles on penicillin and many
interviews with Fleming appeared in the public press. Anyone
without prior knowledge who read these would be left in no doubt that
Fleming was the man---- indeed the only---- person responsible for the
therapeutic use of penicillin. and these versions of 'penicillin story'
are given in such circumstantial details that even someone familiar
with the truth might begin to doubt his own knowledge.

This image of  Fleming as sole creator of penicillin therapy was made
to seem credible only because certain facts ignored or distorted.
The true facts are:

       first, that Fleming did nothing obvious to promote penicillin
               therapy between 1929 and 1941.
      second, that the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford
              was the first laboratory to produce penicillin on  a large scale
             and to show that it protected infected animals.
      third, that the first effective clinical trials was on patients in an
            Oxford Hospital, in which Fleming took no part.