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Dynamis

versión impresa ISSN 0211-9536

Resumen

SANTESMASES, María Jesús. Screening antibiotics: industrial research by CEPA and Merck in the 1950s. Dynamis [online]. 2011, vol.31, n.2, pp.407-427. ISSN 0211-9536.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4321/S0211-95362011000200008.

This article is an account of a screening programme in search of new antibiotics established by CEPA (Compañia Española de Penicilinas y Antibióticos) and Merck in Madrid in 1954. An exploration of the genealogy for such a programme, its narratives and practices, shows that the main inspiration for this programme was the factory system of production, on the one hand, and Selman Waksman's research agenda on microorganisms of the soil, on the other. In this article, the relationship between industrial production of antibiotics and the research program aimed at identifying new candidate drugs is examined. I suggest that this screening program in search of new antibiotics was organised like industrial manufacturing. The research objects and tools came, both materially and conceptually, from industrial production: a line of artisanship put together in order to obtain a product with the collaboration of every member of the production line. Following the style developed by Selman Waksman in Rutgers, the screening program evaluated samples manually, and the microbiological skills were enhanced with every test. The Madrid team's practice of applying instructions for use led to circulation of knowledge and practices, including research material and microbiological methods.

Palabras clave : Antibiotic screening; CEPA; Spain; factory system and research; Antonio Gallego; Selman Waksman.

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