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The gastrocamera is a miniature camera that can be inserted into the stomach for medical examination and diagnosis. It was invented in Japan in 1950 and has since become a vital diagnostic instrument for the early detection of ulcers and cancer. The camera itself is 12.7 mm in diameter, the connection device 10.2mm in diameter. The camera has a wide angle, fixed-focus, fixed-aperture lens (focal length f3, aperture f1/10, angle of field 80°). Exposure is synchronized with flash illumination from a tiny tungsten bulb.
The position and direction of the camera in the stomach can be observed from the outside by passing air into the stomach and focusing light on the abdominal wall. Recent developments have made examination less uncomfortable for the patient. This has come about through the application of fibre optics; the gastrocamera included in the capsule requires only the lens and light source to be inserted into the body.
Acupuncture, a medical treatment involving the insertion of silver needles into strategic points of the body, was introduced to Japan during the Nara period (8th centry). The position of the needles for the treatment of various diseases was laid down in China in ancient times according to theory which does not accord with Western physiology. The needles are inserted painlessly to a depth of 10-50mm; in some cases they are agitated for a predetermined length of time. In recent years, some Western physicians have taken a serious interest in acupuncture, particularly in its use for anaesthesia and the relief of pain.
Moxa, another ancient treatment, is applied to points of the body approximating those of acupuncture. Small cones of combustible moxa (wormwood: Artemisia absinthium) are placed on these points and allowed to burn down, Ieaving a small blister on the skin. Treatment is repeated five to ten times on the same spot. Acupuncture and moxa reatments are still widely applied in China and Japan and they have proved effective in the treatment of diseases and pain resistant to Western medical techniques.
Diastase, an agent composed of enzymes, was first isolated in 1833. It is an important agent in the digestion of starch. Takadiastase was developed by a Japanese scientist, Takamine Jokichi, in 1894 on the basis of traditional rice-yeast cultivation techniques. In the production of Takadiastase, Japanese yeast fungus spores are added to a culture medium of steamed wheat bran. In warm conditions, the spores germinate and grow and after sufficient enzymes have been produced these are drawn off with water. Alcohol is added and the precipitate is dried at low temperature. The resulting powder is used as a digestive for therapeutic purposes and in the manufacture of various kinds of food and animal feed.
Two of the enzymes in Takadiastase, α-amylase-amylase and ribonuclease T1 and T2, are used in refined and purified form as important reagents in biochemical studies. The sample in the capsule consists of the spores of a potent diastase zymogen.
Ephedrine-Nagai (ephedrine hydrochloride) is an alkaloid separated from ephedra sinica staph. by Nagai Nagayoshi in 1885. The alkaloid was also compounded by Nagai. It is still used effectively for the treatment of asthma (in which it helps to reduce convulsion of the muscles of the bronchial tube and control secretion) and as an aid to respiration. Ephedrine-Nagai is also indicated for the treatment of bronchial catarrh, cough, enuresis nocturna, heart failure and haemorrhoids. Although the action of Ephedrine-Nagai resembles that of the hormone adrenalin, its potency is 1/100th – 1/200th that of adrenalin and its effectiveness is 7-10 times more prolonged.
Tetrodotoxin is refined from the highly toxic ovaries of various species of blowfish (genus Mafugu), notably torafugn (Tetraodon rubripes) and mafugu. In 1913, the poison in refined form was found to be effective as an analgesic for specific conditions such as neuralgia and rheumatism. In 1952, a research team headed by Kawamura Masaaki of the Sankyo Company developed a technique for mass-production of tetrodotoxin in crystalline form: ten grams can be refined from about one ton of blowfish ovaries.
Tetrodotoxin has been analyzed by many Japanese pharmacologists including Fukuda Tokushi of Kyushu University. Its effects are rapid and wide-spread: vomiting, paralysis, Iowered blood pressure, arrhythmia, reduction of stomach secretion and anti-diuresis. Recently, it has been established that tetrodotoxin has a unique effect on the transmission of nerve impulses. A tetrodotoxin solution of extremely low strength blocks the entry of sodium ions into nerve membrane without effecting the permeation of chlorine and potassium ions. This characteristic of tetrodotoxin is considered to have great therapeutic potential.
In Japan the flesh of fugu is considered to be a delicacy and it is eaten both raw and cooked. Although the toxic parts of the fish are carefully removed before eating, fatal cases of tetrodotoxin poisoning occur from time to time.
The very first anti-plasmin drug was developed in Japan by Mitsubishi Chemical Industries in 1947. In 1954, The Daiichi Seiyaku Company – in cooperation with Hayashi Takashi of Keio University, Tokyo – marketed the anti-plasmin drug Ipsilon ( ε-amino caglon acid). AMCHA (4-amino methyl cyclohexane carbonic acid), another anti-plasmin drug, was developed by Okamoto Akisuke of Kobe University in 1961. Four years later, the effective ingredient of AMCHA was marketed in transisomer form by Daiichi Seiyaku under the name Transamin.
The molecular weight of Transamin is 157; it melts and decomposes at 386-392 ºC. Available in crystalline and powder form, it has no smell and is somewhat bitter in taste. Transamin dissolves in water (1 gram Transamin/6ml water) but it is barely soluble in organic solvents. The medical benefits of Transamin are its powerful resistance to plasmin and its effectiveness in cases of haemorrhage, allergy and inflammation.
As early as 1897 it was known that beriberi (a disease caused by B1 deficiency) could result from a diet heavily dependent on polished rice. A few years later, in 1910, Suzuki Umetaro of Tokyo University discovered a component in rice-bran that was effective in checking beriberi and he succeeded in isolating this component; he called it Oryzanin after the botanical term for rice, Oryza sativa.
In 1911, Oryzanin was marketed: it was the first vitamin compound. The word "vitamin" was not actually coined until one year later, by Casimir Funk, during the course of research into an extract of rice bran. He named this extract "vitamine", an abbreviation of "vital amine".
Beriberi – the symptoms of which are neuritis, Ioss of appetite and, in later stages, heart failure accompanied by oedema – has been largely eradicated in Japan due to the availability of B1 compounds such as Oryzanin. Also, progressively, thiol-type B1 derivatives are being used for the treatment of various other diseases. In 1968, Japan produced the world's largest output of B1 and B1 derivatives- – 593 tons.
The contents of this site are excerpted from THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF TIME CAPSULE EXPO'70(March 1975). Please note that company and organization names may differ from those of the current ones.
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