Magic Bullet

Rate this resource

In this SATIS Revisited resource students trace the developments in drugs and medicines that led to modern chemotherapy. The activity focuses on 'magic bullets' - chemicals that target disease-causing organisms.

The central focus of this unit is Paul Ehrlich’s imaginative idea that it should be possible to find chemicals that target and kill disease-causing organisms while leaving normal body cells unharmed – ‘magic bullets’. This theory paved the way for modern chemotherapy.

Students find out about the first modern chemotherapeutic agent – Paul Ehrlich's arsphenamine, an arsenic compound discovered in 1909 and used to treat syphilis. This was later followed by sulphonamides discovered by Gerhard Domagk and penicillin discovered by Alexander Fleming. Today monoclonal antibodies – many antibodies of the same type – are used to treat a wide array of human diseases including cancer.

There are two activities in this unit. The unit would be suitable after work on drugs and disease. Questions from the second activity could also be used for homework, before or after the first activity. If students have access to computers, the first part of ‘A story of drug discovery’ could be done on screen.

Contents of this unit:
Unit overview
Guidance for teachers

The search for the magic bullet timeline

*Activity sheet A – Search for the magic bullet questions
*Activity sheet B – Search for the magic bullet questions (simplified version)
*Activity sheet C – Timeline cards (cut the sheet into cards before giving to students)
*Activity sheet D – Timeline (blank)

A story of drug discovery

*Activity sheet A – A story of drug development questions
*Activity sheet B – A story of drug development questions (simplified version)
*Activity sheet C – Putting the story together (cut the sheet into paragraphs before giving to students)
*Activity sheet D – Putting the story together

Show health and safety information

Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

Published by


Share this resource

Lists that tag this content