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Histamine and the antiallergic antihistamines: a history of their discoveries


Dr M. B. Emanuel Harrowdown House, Tucks Lane, Longworth, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5ET, UK.


The paper provides a historical overview of the discovery of both histamine and the H1 antihistamines. The context of these discoveries is provided in relation to the development of medicinal chemistry during the 19th century. Background is provided on the history of discovery of mechanisms of anaphylaxis and allergy and the immunology of hypersensitivity at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. The discovery of histamine and the antihistamines is then discussed in relation to the development of pharmacological receptor theory culminating in the discovery of the first antihistamines in the 1930s and their widespread clinical introduction in the 1940s.