The experiment

  • Wills decided to feed rhesus monkeys in a laboratory with a diet similar to the anemic women. Many of the monkeys came down with anemia.
  • Wills found that liver extract, a previous remedy that was effective in treating Addisonian anemia, was an effective treatment of the type of anemia Wills was researching. However, she needed a very high dose to combat anemia in pregnant monkeys.
  • Liver extract was expensive at that time, and thus not a suitable solution.
  • Wills found that Marmite, a cheap bread spread made from concentrated brewer's yeast, was very successful in treating anemic monkeys.
  • Turning to anemic pregnant women, she found an increase in the red cell count by the fourth day but admitted that she didn't know which compound in the Marmite and liver extract was responsible for the cure.

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