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Discharged from his Berlin hospital post in the latter half of the 19th century for opposing the primitive medical treatments perscribed by his superiors, Dr. Paul Ehrlich goes on to develop a dye which delineates the tubercule bacillus . For his achievement, Ehrlich is awarded a position by the famous research bacteriologist Dr. Robert Koch. Ehrlich's exposure to tuberculosis has infected him with the disease, however, and he is forced to travel to Egypt for his health. There, while treating a snake bite victim, he conceives of the idea of anti-toxins, and upon his return to Germany, Ehrlich works with his friend, Dr. Emil von Behring, to develop a serum for diptheria. After their development of a vaccination that arrests the diptheria epidemic, Ehrlich pursues his dream of finding a "magic bullet" to destroy invading microbes. He spends fifteen years developing a theory of how nature fights disease, and for his efforts is awarded the Nobel Prize and an institute in which to work. There he launches a series of experiments which apply his theory to the task of curing disease, but his efforts are attacked by a recalcitrant medical community, led by his old friend Behring. Assailed on two fronts, Ehrlich struggles to develop a cure for syphilis while fighting to keep his budget intact. When his budget is cut in half, he turns to wealthy widow Franziska Speyer for funding. Six hundred-and-six experiments later, he discovers the cure for syphilis, and in the hope of saving lives, is persuaded to release the formula before testing is completed. Finding himself under atack when a few patients die from adverse reaction, Ehrlich is finally vindicated in a court trial led by Behring. The struggle has drained the doctor's health, however, and Ehrlich pays for the development of his miracle cure with the cost of his own life.