1928 - Alexander Fleming discovers Penicillin (00:08:23)

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1928 - Alexander Fleming discovers Penicillin

Rights-Managed, Editorial

Location and time:

United Kingdom, Oxford, 1928


Penicillin (sometimes abbreviated PCN or pen) is a group of antibiotics derived from Penicillium fungi. Penicillin antibiotics are historically significant because they are the first drugs that were effective against many previously serious diseases such as syphilis and Staphylococcus infections. Penicillins are still widely used today, though many types of bacteria are now resistant. All penicillins are Beta-lactam antibiotics and are used in the treatment of bacterial infections caused by susceptible, usually Gram-positive, organisms.

The term "penicillin" can also refer to the mixture of substances that are naturally, and organically, produced

Sir Alexander Fleming (August 6, 1881 – March 11, 1955) discovered the antibiotic substance lysozyme and isolated the antibiotic substance penicillin from the fungus Penicillium notatum. In September 1928, he was sorting through the many idle experiments strewn about his lab. He inspected each specimen before discarding it and noticed an interesting fungal colony had grown as a contaminant on one of the agar plates streaked with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Fleming inspected the Petri dish further and found that the bacterial colonies around the fungus were transparent because their cells were undergoing the process of lysis. Lysis is the breakdown of cells, and in this case, potentially harmful bacteria. The importance was immediately recognized; however, the discovery was still underestimated. Fleming issued a publication about penicillin in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology in 1929. Fleming worked with the mould for some time, but refining and growing it was a difficult process better suited to chemists. Fleming”s impression was that, because of the problem of producing the drug in quantity and because its action seemed slow, it would not be an important resource for treating infection. Furthermore, his initial paper was not well received in the medical community. Fleming, therefore, did not pursue the subject further. It was left to two other scientists, Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain, to develop a method of purifying penicillin to an effective form. Through their work, the drug was available for mass distribution during World War II. For his achievements, Fleming was knighted in 1944. Fleming, Florey, and Chain were the joint recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945. Florey was later given the honor of a peerage for his monumental work in making penicillin available to the public and saving millions of lives in World War II.

In 1928, bacteriologist Alexander Fleming made a chance discovery from an already discarded, contaminated Petri dish. The mold that had contaminated the experiment turned out to contain a powerful antibiotic, penicillin. However, though Fleming was credited with the discovery, it was over a decade before someone else turned penicillin into the miracle drug for the 20th century.

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Chinese Simplified :

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Czech :

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Finnish :

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German :

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Hindi :

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Hungarian :

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Indonesian :

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Russian :

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Slovenian :

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Spanish :

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Sound Bite and conversation:

Schadewaldt, Hans

(Medicine Historian, penicillin) , speaking German:
-  "The propaganda minister of the Empire prohibited the German press – and he could prohibit in a totalitarian state – to use the word penicillin. He wanted the people to know about a German invention, Domagk. He never wanted to admit that the English had found a very efficient agent, penicillin. "

Schadewaldt, Hans

(Medicine Historian, penicillin) , speaking German:
-  "Hitler’s doctor, Morell, wrote a study where he identified penicillin as a new medicine. This case study was immediately encrypted and only a few people got to read this document. So even doctors were not allowed to know about it. "

Schadewaldt, Hans

(Medicine Historian, penicillin) , speaking German:
-  "We only suspected that a new medicine had been discovered. They said that the Americans had something similar. In North Africa they found a sizeable quantity of penicillin in English warehouses. But this was only stolen material and not from their own production. "

Heatley, Norman

(Penicillin researcher) , speaking English:
-  "On one side they try to kill as many people as possible – on the other side they have a medicine that could save the lives of those soldiers who would die without the medicine. This was a great military advantage. "

Heatley, Norman

(Penicillin researcher) , speaking English:
-  "We started our research as the war broke out on 1st October 1939. "

Heatley, Norman

(Penicillin researcher) , speaking English:
-  "“He realised that the fungus contained some substance which stopped the development of the streptococcus. This was penicillin.” "

Heatley, Norman

(Penicillin researcher) , speaking English:
-  "At that time no-one took him seriously and soon they forgot his discovery. Surely nobody would remember this. If Fleming would not have recorded it, today we would not have penicillin. "




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15-11-2010 15:30:53

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