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Koch’s Postulates and Chemotherapy

Robert Koch developed a set of postulates that are used to establish a relationship between a particular germ and disease. Per Black and Black (2018), they are the presence of the causative agent in each case, the ability to isolate in pure culture, the production of the same disease upon its transferal to another sample, and its recovery from the inoculated organism. Through these postulates, it is possible to establish a definitive connection between a particular microbe and a disease. Medical workers can then research ways to address the cause, contributing to curing the disease.

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Koch’s discoveries have contributed to the emergence of chemotherapy, which involves the purposeful injection of potentially harmful substances into the body because it effectively kills the causes of the disease. Once a connection between a microorganism and an illness is established, it is possible to seek ways to eliminate said organism without damaging the body excessively. As a result, curing a variety of diseases through scientific approaches became possible. Without Koch’s contribution, chemotherapy drugs may have done more harm to the body by eliminating essential microfauna than it would contribute to curing the illness.

With that said, there is a substantial number of exceptions to the postulates. Some of them include microbes that cannot be cultivated outside the body, diseases that are caused by combinations of microorganisms, and human-specific illnesses where transferability tests would be unethical. In such cases, nurses have to rely on other symptoms and findings to address the problem. At times, their knowledge will be sufficient to comprehend the problem and resolve it using evidence-based practice. Seeking the assistance of a physician specializing in the specific disease type would also be advisable to confirm the diagnosis and determine an effective treatment.


Black, J. G., & Black, L. J. (2018). Microbiology: Principles and explorations (10th ed.). Wiley.

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