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Introduction One hundred years ago a young chemist in Germany made a discovery which today continues to ease our aches and pains reduce our fevers fight inflammation and save lives On August 10 1897 this chemist Felix Hoffmann discovered a stable form of acetylsalicylic acid the active ingredient in aspirin Hoffmann had been seeking a pain-relieving medication for his fathers debilitating rheumatism Not only did the drug ease his fathers pain and inflammation but when it was marketed as aspirin by a company called Bayer two years later it quickly became the worlds most popular pain reliever One century after Hoffmanns discovery aspirin continues to be the subject of extensive medical research and has gained recognition for life-saving properties as a cardiac care regime for millions of people Bayer remains at the forefront as the major marketer of aspirin worldwide and is supporting research aimed at discovering new applications for its wonder drug possibly helping to prevent everything from heart attacks to certain types of cancer and even Alzheimers disease Aspirin from willow tree to Nobel Prize Aspirins active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid ASA is the commercially synthesized form of a naturally occurring compound whose uses can be traced back 2000 years The compound called salicin is found in the white willow tree Around 200 BC Hippocrates the Greek physician discovered that chewing on willow bark could relieve pain and fever Although ASA was a proven pain reliever no one really knew how it worked until more than 70 years after Hoffmanns discovery In 1971 British pharmacologist John Vane discovered that the anti-inflammatory properties of ASA result from its ability to inhibit the bodys production of certain chemical mediators prostaglandins that promote inflammation and therefore cause pain Vane received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1982 for this medical research breakthrough Bayer and aspirin Bayer trademarked Aspirin in Germany on March 6 1899 The name comes from
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