Fleming and the Discovery of Penicillin

Alexander Fleming is one of the foremost Scientists of the 20th Century. His discovery, more than any other in the world of science, has led to a change in how the human race has evolved. Prior to the discovery of Penicillin, the disease of blood poisoning was a major cause of mortality. A simple cut or nick could become infectious and spell the end of someone’s life.

Image credit

Fleming discovered the wonder drug by working on an established theory. Penicillium mould was known to have antibacterial abilities but how this could be harnessed or why it did what it did was unknown.  He applied some Penicillium Reubens to an agar plate laced with Staphylococcus aureus, the cause of blood poisoning. The Mould destroyed the Staphylococcus and even made it retreat,

Image credit

The motivation for Fleming came from his experiences in the First World War. He had seen many lives saved from immediate danger after being wounded, only to succumb to infection and blood poisoning soon after. If this Penicullum Rueben’s mould could be made into an effective treatment, countless lives could be saved.  However, the production and distribution of this would have required much bigger premises, and Laboratory Relocation, like that from Aport Global, would have been needed.

It fell to Harold Florey, Ernst Chain, and Robert Heatley to develop the idea and utilise the USA’s huge pharmaceutical companies to mass-produce the drug. It was seen as one of the contributing factors to the Allies’ victory in World War Two.

Leave a Reply