The problem before Dr. Ferguson now was to find some remedy that would be successful in stimulating phagocytosis, yet non-toxic. In 1927, he heard Dr. Granville Hanes, a noted proctologist, and studied this surgeon’s technique in treating pruritus ani by injections of 1-3000 hydrochloric acid without any evidence of toxic effect, yet with uniformly good results. Dr. Ferguson attributed this absence of toxicity to the fact that hydrochloric acid is one of the very few inorganic acids that are normal constituents of the human body, and he determined to experiment upon himself to discover whether it could be used safely by intravenous injection. Upon his return home, he instructed his technician to take several leukocyte counts, then give him an intravenous injection of 10 cc 1-500 solution hydrochloric acid. There was no severe reaction, as in the cases that had received arsphenamin, mercurochrome, and donor's blood, and the leukocyte count increased very considerably, with a definite increase of polynuclear percentage. With this encouragement, he gave several doses of this preparation to some of the most seriously ill patients who had failed to respond to other forms of treatment. The effect was so spectacular that he continued his efforts and reported his observations in Clinical Medicine and Surgery.
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