Remembering the forgotten Indian biochemist who made pioneering contributions to cancer treatment –

(The article first appeared on Scroll on September 3, 2021)

  • In May 1948, Gobind Behari Lal, a science writer and the first Indian to win a Pulitzer, wrote in his column about a patient at New York’s Harlem Hospital. The patient, afflicted with cancer of the oesophagus, had been treated with a new drug, Teropterin, which had considerably alleviated his pain. The drug, synthesised by pioneering biochemist Yellapragada Subbarow and his colleagues was a “chemical relative of synthetic folic acid”, a vitamin used in treating certain forms of anaemia. Lal’s conclusion was that Teropterin temporarily arrested the cancer, and “Subbarow would use this new knowledge to develop new far-reaching cancer treatments”…

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