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Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by a Romanian chemist named Lazar Edeleanu, at the University of Berlin. He was looking for an alternative to the drug ephedrine, which had proved itself as a bronchodilator for the treatment of asthma. Edeleanu initially named the drug phenylisopropylamine, but then changed it to alpha-methylphenethylamine, or amphetamine for short. Unfortunately, it disappointed in the bronchodilation trials, though it was noted that subjects administered the drug showed an array of side effects including alertness, euphoria, and increased energy. In 1919, a team in Japan led by Akira Ogata synthesized methamphetamine. The same effects were noted, though researchers could not find a clinical use for the compound. Amphetamine and methamphetamine research was then shelved until 1927.

Gordon Alles, a 27-year-old chemist, ...

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