What are the main facts about penicillin?
Antibiotics are chemicals, effective at very low concentrations, created as part of the life process of one organism, which can kill or stop the growth of a disease-causing microbe--a germ. In 1929, Alexander Fleming, a doctor and researcher at St. Mary's Hospital in London, England, published a paper on a chemical he called "penicillin", which he had isolated from from a mold, Penicillium notatum. Penicillin, Fleming wrote, had prevented the growth of a neighboring colony of germs in the same petri dish. Dr. Fleming was never able to purify his samples of penicillin, but he became the first person to publish the news of its germ-killing power. Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley expanded on ...more
any of a group of chemically similar substances obtained from molds of the genus Penicillium that were the first antibiotic agents to be used successfully in the treatment of bacterial infections in humans. The antagonistic effect of penicillin on bacteria was first observed by the Scottish biologist Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928. Although he recognized the therapeutic potential of penicillin, it was not until 1941 that a group of biologists working in England, including Oxford's Sir H. W. Florey and E. B. Chain, purified the substance and established its effectiveness against infectious organisms and its lack of toxicity to humans. The first successful treatment of a patient with penicillin occurred in New Haven, Conn., in 1942. Despite the development of hundreds of different antibiotics in recent decades, penicillin remains important in antibiotic therapy.
Small amounts of the antibiotic were first obtained from strains of the mold species P. notatum grown in fermenta ...more