Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Discovery of penicillin

Penicillin
Penicillin is defined as any antibiotic drug taken from molds or made synthetically to treat different diseases and/or infections. More specifically, penicillin is the liquid which is secreted from penicillium notatum, which is the mold.

In 1906 the young physician Alexander Fleming became a research assistant at St Mary's Hospital in London. Fleming went to France during the First World War to treat wounded soldiers and could see for himself that there was no effective way of treating many infections.

Back at St Mary's after the war, Fleming was determined to find a better way of killing germs. In 1928 he was studying staphylococci bacteria (that can, among other things, infect wounds). By pure luck, he noticed that on a dish containing agar on which he had been growing germs, near some mold, the germs were less common.

He grew more of the mold, naming it penicillin from its Latin name Penicillium. Fleming discovered the mold was effective against bacteria that caused diseases such as anthrax, meningitis and diphtheria. He published his discoveries but did not have the resources to experiment more widely with penicillin.

Some of the diseases/illnesses that penicillin treats includes: pneumonia, meningitis, erysipelas, scarlet fever, diphtheria, blood poisoning, syphilis, gangrene, strep throat and gonorrhea.

Penicillin works to treat illnesses/diseases by killing bacteria and arresting its growth. It only kills the bacteria that is growing and reproducing, not those which are stationery.
Penicillin
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