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“A new antibiotic?” Since penicillin was introduced in 1943, antibiotics had been developed one after another. However, most of them were too toxic to be used as clinical treatment for human beings.
Unlike palmatine, which was used to treat frozen blood, antibiotics have had an extraordinary place in the history of medicine. During World War II, the United States placed the development of penicillin on the same level of importance as the development of the atomic bomb. Antibiotics were a real life-saving drug for everyone, in times of crisis!
Antibiotics had always been a popular project in the field of biopharmaceuticals, and countless laboratories around the world had been working on them day and night, but the ones that were actually used in the clinic were still the same, which was an important reason for the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. Bacterias were like people, the same method was effective once or twice, but after a hundred times or a thousand times, the resistance became obvious.
A new antibiotic! How was this possible?
“To be precise, a brand new antibiotic for clinical purposes only.” If he remembered correctly, Merck researchers discovered thiamphenicol back in ’76 and registered the first core patent for a carbapenem antibiotic in history in the U.S. in ’77, and counting the years, it may have been submitted for marketing approval by now.
The professors looked at each other, and they naturally understood the meaning of Li Zheng’s words. The new antibiotics in the clinic, that was, the antibiotics may have been developed, but it hadn’t been applied to the clinic yet.
It was also true that Li Zheng’s amazing performance at the Asian Biopharmaceutical Conference had won the favor of many world-class biopharmaceutical powerhouses, using his private contacts to obtain certain information, wasn’t surprising.
But they also knew that those in their line of work who had a little bit of brain wouldn’t reveal important information about drugs that were not yet on the market, and the person who mentioned this to Li Zheng was at most only slightly pointing out the direction. It was amazing that Li Zheng could propose a new molecular structure of antibiotics through such a point.
“The dead horse is being treated as a living horse, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ah ……” Professor Zhao shook his head as he spoke, “Li Zheng, what do you want us to do?”
[TN: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common encapsulated, Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium that can cause disease in plants and animals, including humans.]
In fact, the professors didn’t hold much hope for Li Zheng, developing a new antibiotic to treat the drug-resistant bacteria that there was no drug on the market to fight, dream on!
But seeing their friend struggling with life and death, they couldn’t pass this hurdle without doing something, and almost everyone had this mentality.
He didn’t expect these old professors to believe him, all he needed was the execution.
“Then I won’t be polite.” The corners of Li Zheng’s lips hooked up slightly as he issued a series of consecutive orders.
“Professor Sun, Professor Qian, Professor Wang, form three groups, separate and extract thiomycin, there are detection reagents in the refrigerator, if the reagents turn red it’s a successful extraction.”
“Zhang Yuejun you are responsible for helping the three professors to make data records.”
“Professor Zhao, I’ll trouble you to team up with me.” Li Zheng debugged the temperature control and said to Professor Zhao with a smile.
Professor Zhao nodded and consciously walked to Li Zheng’s side and gave him a hand.
“Raise the temperature another ten degrees, and Zhang Yuejun observe the bacterial performance.”
“How is the bacterial activity?”
“Make a note, 64.3 degrees Celsius, the bacterium appears to be differentiated and the bacterial activity is obvious.”
From noon until evening, the crowd didn’t even have time to drink water, in the middle of that, Wang Jing returned and brought back the patient’s medication and response records last night, unsurprisingly, several antibiotics had been combined, the effect was still not obvious, there were already patients who looked dehydrated and had breathing difficulties. All the doctors at Queen Mary Hospital worked around the clock without a minute’s rest.
The director of Queen Mary Hospital made calls all night and pleaded with the British General Hospital to help by allowing the British laboratory to test the samples they sent ahead, and the British General Hospital agreed. At 6:00 p.m., the hospital received the sample results, which showed that the patient was infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and the British side suggested concentrating on isolation, abandoning damaging treatments, and increasing the patient’s comfort level.
In other words, there was no rule of law, they couldn’t use the intense treatment to increase the suffering of patients, they could only let them live well before death.
Wang Jing’s entire body was choked up as she repeated the passage, “The hospital has begun to concentrate on the infected population, and those to be observed have been isolated. Are they …… really hopeless?” Watching familiar patients being pushed out of the patients” rooms one by one, like pigs suffering from the plague being concentrated in an empty isolation room, the hearts of all the medical staff weren’t good.
It was also extremely traumatic for the patients’ psyche, with many of them crying with fever and begging them if they could be allowed to stay in the ward, if they could be allowed to die with dignity. The nurses and doctors could only say sorry over and over again, because Mary’s Hospital was not a traditional infectious disease hospital, and the medical conditions in the eighties were not as good as in later times. The disinfection measures in the ordinary wards were far from guaranteeing the isolation of the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, and the number of isolation wards was limited.
A huge isolation room with rows of beds placed together was the best the hospital could do. They were responsible for the health of the rest of the patients left.
“I will never give up on saving you until the last minute, but I’m sorry, I can’t gamble with the lives of other patients.” A female doctor with red eyes pushed a patient she had twice resuscitated from the operating table into an isolation room.
“We didn’t want to. Before the test reports came out from England, Professor Chen and the doctors had been fighting to just isolate the infected patients in the ward. Many patients are very smart, as soon as they enter the isolation room, they know what is going on, which is a great blow to the patient’s will to live, but the most important thing at this moment is the patient’s own willpower ah!” Wang Jing emotionally spoke.
There was a moment of silence in the laboratory, and the worst had happened. Li Zheng came to the conclusion that the sample was Pseudomonas aeruginosa long ago, but never told Mary’s Hospital, worried about this result, he was afraid that before he extracted the carbapenem antibiotics, the patient had given up the will to live.
“Where’s Professor Xu? Is he in the isolation room?” Li Zheng asked with a hoarse voice.
Wang Jing shook her head, “That’s not true, Professor Xu and those special patients are still isolated separately. Professor Chen did not tell Professor Xu that it was Pseudomonas aeruginosa ……”
Yes, no matter which era there was a privileged class. Li Zheng breathed a long sigh of relief, he was glad that Xu Mingsheng was the privileged class.
“Tell Professor Chen to continue with the medication, don’t give up, try to physically cool down, there is still hope on my side.” Li Zheng said to Wang Jing seriously.
Wang Jing’s eyes lit up when she heard that, the little nurse had a limited understanding of drug-resistant bacteria and could only see from the hospital’s reaction that Pseudomonas aeruginosa was a very scary drug-resistant bacteria, but had little idea of how scary it really was. She heard that Li Zheng said there was hope and did not question it in the slightest.
“Then I’ll be grateful to Mr. Li Zheng.” She bowed deeply.
Li Zheng nodded his head and didn’t care about covering up, he directly selected the correct microorganism and adjusted the instrument to the temperature he remembered.
Seeing the bottom reagent slightly reddened, he knew he had succeeded.
“Zhang Yuejun, have the mice arrived yet?” Li Zheng spoke.
The three professors on the side who were still constantly doing whatever experiments they were doing to separate the crude extracts extracted from moldy buns, fermented beer, and so on, stopped what they were doing when they heard the words.
“It worked?” They couldn’t believe it!
“It worked.” There was no more time, he could only succeed, Li Zheng thought with a bitter smile. The outside world’s questioning and what not, he didn’t care. In addition to genius, what else could be said? Rebirth and other events, in the modern society of science, no one would sincerely believe.
A group of people almost cautiously stared at the reagents in Li Zheng’s hand.
Whether they were skeptical or not, this was their only hope now.
Li Zheng handed the experimental notes to the crowd, “Follow the steps to extract, the more the better, the mice experiment needs quite a lot of dosage.”
Zheng Lingling had long prepared mice, after Zhang Yuejun made a call, she brought a row of mice to the laboratory.
Li Zheng looked at his watch, 7:45 p.m. According to Wang Jing, they were running out of time.
It was another night.
In the evening, Zheng Lingling and Liu Menglin and the two professors from the School of Medicine of Hlng Kong University also joined the experiment. Although Zheng Lingling and Liu Menglin were a bit raw, they were at least students of the School of Medicine of Hong Kong University and did a good job of data recording and analysis.
Luckily, this girl Zheng Lingling was here this evening. These experimental dogs didn’t know how to eat whent they entered the experimental state. It didn’t matter that Li Zheng, Zhang Yuejun and Liu Menglin were young people that could miss one or two meals, but these old professors couldn’t. Zheng Lingling recorded and analyzed the data, while ordering food and pouring water, taking care of things outside the experiment in good order. The little girl stayed up with these men for more than twenty hours without complaining.
This made Li Zheng who had still been annoyed because she brought the students into the third laboratory, forgive her. She was good at the job, in addition to professional knowledge and professionalism, but she was still lacking a bit.
“Ringg”, The sound of the telephone in the silent laboratory was particularly ear-piercing.
Zheng Lingling ran over and picked up the phone at the first opportunity.
“Hello, it’s Mr. Li Zheng, is the medicine ready? A patient has been declared dead in the isolation ward, and Professor Xu is not in very good shape, Professor Chen said that if it doesn’t work, you and the professors should come back to see Professor Xu.”
Zhang Yuejun’s hand shook, making the reagents fall to the ground, the liquid splashed on his pure white lab coat, staining it red.
Liu Menglin hurried to deal with it and disinfect the floor.
“Brother, go and change your clothes.”
Zhang Yuejun was almost frozen as he was pushed into the changing room, he was Professor Xu’s graduate student, a full three years of affection couldn’t be faked.
Li Zheng took a deep breath, took out the portable incubator, and loaded the existing extracted dozens of tubes of carbapenem antibiotics into the incubator.
“Go, let’s go to the hospital!” He spoke.
Professor Zhao looked at Li Zheng’s actions and spoke: “You’re crazy, look at the experimental data, the survival rate of the mice is less than thirty percent! This antibiotic is not up to the standard of clinical trials, let alone injecting it directly into patients!”
Yes, the data that came out of staying up all night was not as good as it could have been. The mice injected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa were injected with extracted carbapenem antibiotics after an infectious reaction. Less than thirty percent of the mice were cured normally, and the rest had violent drug reactions and even died less than five minutes after the antibiotics were injected.
With this experimental data, all professors agreed that this type of antibiotic, like many others that had been discovered, was too toxic to be used as a clinical treatment for humans.
But they did admit that this carbapenem antibiotic did work against P. aeruginosa, which was an exciting result, and that by following this path, P. aeruginosa infections would no longer be hopeless!
But how many years down this road, one year, two years, five years? This may not be much for the entire human process, but for the patients now lying in the isolation ward, for Xu Mingsheng who was struggling on the line of life and death, this was the distance between life and death.
“It does work against Pseudomonas aeruginosa doesn’t it? It’s the only way out!” Li Zheng had never tried to extract carbapenem antibiotics in his previous life, and even if he knew the extraction steps, the molecular formula, he could not make a perfect carbapenem antibiotic with minimal toxicity control in such a short period of time again.
This was the best he could do, he knew that carbapenem antibiotics had a large nephrotoxicity, but for patients already struggling on the line of life and death, these nephrotoxicity was nothing. After all, mice were not people, as long as with some relief nephrotoxic drugs, he was 80% sure that most people could make it through the drug side effects.
He no longer had time to do the test with the relief drug injection, he was 80% sure, so he could only make a gamble.
“No! Absolutely not! If something happens, Li Zheng do you know what the result will be?” Professor Wang strongly opposed it, no one would know better than them what it meant for Li Zheng to do this.
Once Li Zheng did so, if the patient was safe, it would be good, but once someone died because of the drug toxicity, the world’s spittle would probably drown the teenager, the media would wear an unpleasant hat on the head of the young man, human experimentation, butcher, such examples in the history of pharmaceutical science had been analysed. How many amazing geniuses had fallen, disappeared from the circle, and even committed s*icide.
No one would care why he did it, they would only know that the standards were not met, to inject that into the human body, was anti-human! No one would cooperate with a biologist who wore the title of anti-human. Once it failed, Li Zheng’s career would be dealt a devastating blow.
The group of professors absolutely couldn’t stand by and watch Li Zheng do this.
Li Zheng looked at each of the professors who were emotionally opposed to him doing this, a warm feeling surged in his heart, but the thoughts in his heart gor firmer, “Professor, compared to the silver lining of over a hundred lives, I think I can still bear these consequences.”
Li Zheng had prepared for the worst case, he didn’t have the certainty that the patient would survive, but he counted, he had a lot of money on hand, if he really couldn’t enter the laboratory anymore, he wouldn’t starve to death.
And it was not like there was no wiggle room. He could find a trusted person to be on stage, while he hid behind the curtain. His dream of winning the Nobel Prize would be gone, because he would no longer be able to stand on the stage to accept any bright honour.
Also, Li Zheng had always felt that his luck was considered good, otherwise he wouldn’t have transmigrated after such a sudden death, So maybe it wouldn’t end like that.
“Li Zheng ah ……” Professor Zhao wanted to say something else.
Li Zheng waved his hand, “Professor, I want to help. You can be rest assured that I will protect myself to the greatest extent possible.” Saying that, he gave a look to Zhang Yuejun, who nodded and quickly ran out to the car.
Professor Zhao almost couldn’t catch his breath from angry. He was planning to go into battle bare-chested, and talking about protecting himself. Even though he was angry, at the same time, he was more touched, envious and ashamed of himself.
Moved by Li Zheng’s choice, envious that Xu Mingsheng had such a good student, ashamed of himself …… he looked up and saw his fellow Professors looking at each other, he could see the shame in their eyes, they were used to fame and fortune, used to being respected, now they lacked the courage to be able to throw their weight around.
“Go, we’ll go with you!” Professor Zhao opened his mouth and said.
All the professors nodded at the same time, going with Li Zheng represented that they knew and supported this matter, which was also a great risk for the professors. If a patient really died because of the antibiotic injection, they would not be forced out of the circle like Li Zheng, but being scolded and their reputations being damaged was inevitable.
Li Zheng looked at them in surprise, and only after a long time did a helpless smile appear on his face, “Okay, feel free to do as you please.” These stubborn men, if he strongly refused, it would make them feel that he was looking down on them. Li Zheng, who had been a scholar for two lifetimes, understood their psychology all too well.
At 3:15 a.m., a van responsible for more than a hundred lives, more than a hundred families, and hundreds of people’s hopes slowly drove out of Qing Garden, cloaked in the night, toward Mary’s Hospital downtown.
3:15 a.m., the nightlife of Hong Kong was not yet over, it was blinding neon, with beautiful sports cars, young people pleasantly shouting, but not far from them, a group of people were struggling on the line of life and death, trying to get the hope of life.
Zhang Yuejun drove fast, today probably God was also on their side, they actually didn’t encounter a red light.
When he saw the Mary’s Hospita signl from afar, Li Zheng looked at his watch, 3:45 AM.
Mary’s Hospital had been blocked off, the police officers saw the approaching van and waved the flashlights in their hands.
“Don’t come closer, don’t come closer.”
Zhang Yuejun made a beautiful drift and the car stopped in front of the blockade line. Li Zheng and the others quickly got out of the car and the police tried to go up and deal with them.
Chen Sufen and Wang Jing, who were wearing white coats, rushed out of the blockade line violently.
The police officer in the lead knew Chen Sufen, and when he saw this, he stopped going forward and shrugged his shoulders and returned to his position.
Li Zheng was still wearing the protective clothing of the laboratory, the protective clothing of Li Zheng’s laboratory was the highest international standards, the isolation of bacteria was much better than the white coats of the doctors in Mary’s Hospital.
“Go in, old Xu is still conscious now.” Chen Sufen didn’t put any hope in Wang Jing’s report, they had been in the front line of clinical doctors knew more about the horror of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, she let Li Zheng and others over, completely with the idea of letting old Xu see his colleagues and proud student one last time.
There were already many people in Xu Mingsheng’s ward, young ones in their twenties and older ones in their thirties and forties. A young man with a face of less than thirty sat sadly at the head of Xu Mingsheng’s bed, and when he saw Li Zheng and his party enter, he spoke, “Dad, Uncle Zhao and the others are here.”
This was Xu Mingsheng’s son, Xu Keqiang, who was a doctoral student at Harvard Medical School.
“Old Xu!” Several professors came forward.
A succession of greetings sounded in the ward, and it seemed that these people were all Xu Mingsheng’s students.
Li Zheng went forward, put the refrigerated incubator aside, and then picked up Xu Mingsheng’s case that was hanging at the end of the bed.
The medication record clearly showed that Chen Sufen had tried all the available antibiotics on Xu Mingsheng’s body, however, there was no good effect.
The high temperature had caused Xu Mingsheng to become dehydrated and have difficulty breathing, so he could not wait any longer.
“Old Zhao ah, I applied for this year’s project funding, you guys can share, just remember, you absolutely cannot let the institution take it back! What’s more, it can’t be cheaper than those old guys in the humanities department!” Xu Mingsheng’s voice was a little weak, because the heat made his whole body weak.
“What nonsense! If we are short of funds, we will naturally grab it from the old guys in the Humanities Department, so there is no need for you to be modest here.” The professors said this, without showing a trace of sadness on their faces, as if this was just an ordinary daily conversation among colleagues.
Xu Mingsheng smiled, his face relaxed a lot, he looked at the crowd with a smile, “Still being polite with me.”
His eyes turned to Li Zheng, Xu Mingsheng’s face revealed a kind smile, “Good boy, I’m proud, although to be honest, I didn’t teach you anything, but I’m still proud.”
Li Zheng felt his eyes sting, he took two steps forward, “Teacher, since you know that you have not taught me anything, should you not reflect on it and try to find something that can teach me in the future?”
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