Penicillin was discovered only by accident.
Even at the beginning of World War II, hundreds of thousands of people died of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Tens of millions of lives have been saved thanks to Scottish physician Alexander Fleming and several other scientists, who then contributed to the development of penicillin.
The memorable discovery of penicillin was born in September 1928, when Fleming returned to his laboratory after a holiday and decided not to throw it away during cleaning, but to examine a few more moldy samples. The mold that killed the surrounding microbes became the basis for the discovery of penicillin, which was first used experimentally on humans on January 17, 1941.
On that September day in 1928, Fleming noticed thriving mold on several bowls and some “eaten” islands around it in his laboratory, where he was examining staphylococcal strains.
Through further experiments, he found that this “fungal juice”, even in a very dilute state, kills not only staphylococci but also other microbes, and is also non-toxic. But when he tried to heal a festering wound after trying on mice (and his colleague), he failed. Fleming only separated a not very stable extract from the fungus and was unable to isolate the active substance, which it named penicillin according to the genus Penicillium. A year later, he informed the public about his discovery.
It was not until 1940 that a team of scientists from Oxford University, led by chemists Ernst Boris Chain and Howard Walter Florey, was able to “cleanse” penicillin and test it to humans a year later. In 1945, Chain, Florey and Fleming received the Nobel Prize for this discovery.
Another problem, however, was to develop a process for the production of penicillin, for which no money was found in Britain, so Florey went to the United States to seek help. Thanks to research by the American government, in the autumn of 1943, “superlicks” could be produced on a large scale, and a year later he was already treating soldiers in the war.
Alexander Fleming was born on August 6, 1881 in Lochfield, Scotland. At the age of 13, he went to London to see his brother – an ophthalmologist, where he graduated from the Polytechnic College and worked for four years as a clerk at a steamship company. In 1901 he enrolled in the medical faculty at the hospital of St. Mary, where he then spent his whole life. The choice of the department was reportedly decided by the fact that in the local bacteriology department they needed a good shooter for competition between hospitals. And so Fleming became an assistant to Almroth Wrigg, a pioneer in the field of vaccination and immunology.
During the First World War, in which he served as a captain in the Army Medical Corps, he married an Irish nurse, Sarah McElroy, with whom he had a son (also a doctor). After her death, his second wife became a Greek colleague from the hospital in 1953.
The first significant discovery of Fleming’s research was lysozyme in 1922 – an enzyme present, for example, in tears or egg white and killing some microorganisms. Fleming made this discovery by inoculating his own mucus from the nose into bacterial cultures, and when it turned out that the mucus destroyed the bacteria, he also used his own tears, which also acted as an antiseptic. The discovery was fundamental, but not as practical as the penicillin that Fleming came up with when he researched the flu virus.
Professor Fleming was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1943 and a year later was awarded the title of Sir. He has received many honors and degrees for his work, about which he has written numerous studies, including honorary doctorates from almost thirty European and American universities. From 1951 to 1954, he also served as rector of the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Fleming died on March 11, 1955 and is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Paul.
In 1999, Fleming was named one of Britain’s 100 greatest celebrities in Britain’s BBC television and radio station, and Time magazine even ranked him among the world’s 100 most important figures. In his native Scotland, he ranked third in a ranking of Scotland’s greatest personalities in a similar poll, after the poet Robert Burns and the Scottish national hero and independence fighter William Wallace.
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