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Professor R A Peters (1889-1982): British Anti-Lewisite (BAL) and treatment of post-arsphenamine jaundice

  • Peters, Rudolph Albert, Sir, 1889-1982
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


This small group of papers was received by the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre in July 1996 along with a number of other collections transferred from the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford. The papers had apparently been received in the Unit in or around September 1991 but there is no information about who presented them. Rudolph Albert Peters (later Sir Rudolph Peters) was a distinguished medical scientist and Professor of Biochemistry, Oxford University. In both World Wars he was involved in research on the effects of gas warfare, and these files deal with his involvement in research into defence against chemical warfare agents, in particular mustard gas and Lewisite. He and his co-workers were able to develop an effective antidote to the latter, 2:3-dimercaptopropanol (British Anti-Lewisite or BAL). This substance also proved of clinical use in treating dermatitis arising from arsenotherapy (then still in use principally as a treatment for syphilis). A couple of files here deal with the related problem of arsenaphine jaundice and its treatment by methionine. The files include reports and correspondence and other material concerning the development of BAL ointment including its extensive testing on animals, beginning with guinea pigs and rabbits, monkeys and horses and eventually human volunteers, and the interest from the United States, which was concurrently developing the similar DHT.



Physical description

4 boxes


A. BAL (British Anti-Lewisite), 1941-1953
A.1/1-6 Reports 1941-1950 A.2 Specifications
A.3/1-5 MRC BAL Conferences/BAL and Allied Substances Committee
A.4 Letters re publications on BAL
A.5 Correspondence on Italian newspaper articles on BAL

B. Arsphenamine jaundice and methionine, 1943-1945

Acquisition note

Collection transferred to Contemporary Medical Archives Centre in July 1996 along with other materials from Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford, where they had been received c. September 1991. It is not known who placed them there.

Biographical note

Biographical material on Peters may be found in Biographical memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol 29, 1983, and obituary in The Times, 2 Feb 1982.

Related material

Additional Peters material in PP/HBF, PP/MEL, PP/PBM, SA/PHY, SA/SRL

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