History of penicillin

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Today antibiotics are used to combat bacterial diseases quite naturally, with the help of many diseases that used to be fatal, are mitigated and cured. Although penicillin, the first antibiotic, is no longer effective in many germs because of antibiotic resistance, it was considered a "lifesaver" during World War II.

Random pollution

For the Scottish physician Dr. It was a big surprise when Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) discovered a "modified" culture dish in 1928 during research at St. Mary's Hospital in London. The plate was covered with blue-green mold and its bacterial colonies were severely inhibited in its growth.

Fleming described his find as follows: "Astonishingly enough, the Staphylococcus colonies decompose within a considerable radius of the growth of mold, and what used to be a full-blown colony was now only a meager remnant." His research showed that Penicillium notatum was the "culprit".

Similar discoveries

Similar observations have been made by other researchers before Fleming, but Fleming went further in his research and found that the fungus inhibits many, deadly for human bacteria in growth, but does not attack white blood cells.

In 1929 Fleming published his discoveries, but the medical community paid little attention to it. In 1938, two scientists (Howard Florey and Ernst Chain) stumbled upon his publication and succeeded in isolating penicillin and producing it in large quantities. In 1945, Fleming, Florey and Chain received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology.

In his speech, Fleming spoke of a "purely accidental" pollution. Thanks to this "pollution": since 1944, penicillin has been produced on a large scale and successfully used to combat many infectious diseases.

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