Inflammation Research

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 103–110 | Cite as

Personal reflections on Sir James Black (1924–2010) and histamine

  • C. Robin Ganellin
History of inflammation


Sir James Black, Nobel laureate (1988), became interested in the role of histamine in gastric acid secretion in the early 1950s. In 1964, he joined the pharmaceutical company Smith Kline and French Laboratories at their English subsidiary to seek a new type of antagonist that would block those actions of histamine that were not blocked by mepyramine. No such compound was known and working with medicinal chemists it took four years to discover a lead compound. Further work provided the compound burimamide, which was used to define histamine H2 receptors in 1972 for the first time, and to verify the action in human volunteers. Subsequent work led to the drug metiamide, which was withdrawn during early clinical trials. This was replaced by cimetidine, which was launched in 1977, as the first histamine H2-receptor antagonist and which revolutionized the treatment of peptic ulcer disease. The characterisation of a second type of histamine receptor revitalised interest in histamine and led to many later studies on the role of histamine in inflammation.


Histamine Anti-histamine GI drugs 


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© Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity College London, Christopher Ingold LaboratoriesLondonUK

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