When was penicillin developed?

It’s hard to imagine life without antibiotics. But before the discovery of penicillin, even simple infections could have deadly consequences. Today, we take for granted that we can easily cure strep throat or clear up acne with the help of pills and creams. However, it wasn’t always like this―in fact, less than a century ago, infectious diseases were among the top killers worldwide.

So how did science overcome this dire situation? Who invented penicillin? When was it developed? How did it revolutionize medicine as we know it today?

Let’s go back in time and discover the intriguing story behind one of the greatest medical breakthroughs.

A Serendipitous Moment That Changed History Forever

Believe it or not, penicillin (which is derived from Penicillium fungi) has been around for millions of years. Our ancestors may have unknowingly used moldy bread or cheese to treat skin infections and wounds long before anything resembling modern medicine existed.

However, what truly caused a stir in scientific circles happened in 1928 when Alexander Fleming discovered something surprising while working at St. Mary’s Hospital in London – he noticed that some Petri dishes containing bacteria had grown mold on them which appeared to inhibit bacterial growth around them.

Upon further examination under his microscope he observed what would later be identified as Penicillium notatum, an organism abundant enough only if lab conditions weren’t properly sterilized – however due diligence was falling short then.

Fleming took note but moved on quickly after finding no real application for his strange observation; aside from wondering why bacteria didn’t thrive near fungus colonies.

Ironically enough,it was only about ten years later that two chemists by the names Howard Florey & Ernst Chain stumbled upon Flemming’s paper when searching through scientific literature looking for “novel anti-infectious agents”. Fun fact, the described mold was still growing in a petri dish in Fleming’s laboratory when they contacted him so many years later!

The Penicillin Story Continues

When testing penicillin for various infections on lab animals with encouraging results and fine-tuning a manufacturing process large enough to be applied to human medicine would prove challenging. Not only was there no obvious way for mass production of antibiotics back then (especially during wartime – as Britain was at that time), but the chemical structure of penicillin was incredibly complex; it proved difficult to extract and purify from its fungal source.

Regardless of challenges, mass production began just one decade after Florey and Chain’s groundbreaking work resulting from sending researchers all over UK – particularly farms with wild strains which yielded potent molds. After collecting a multitude of samples Penicillium chrysogenum also known as the English strain became paramount.

The next breakthrough came when scientists scaled up the fermentation process used by making beers or wines – essentially creating warm broth composed mostly of sugar for fungus spores to munch upon while multiplying wildly; once harvested, filtration techniques helped chemically extricate antibiotics present within this fermented mush. So while your beer may not technically cure what brews you now & again- it used to!

Eventually demand grew beyond bulk beverage capacity even post-prohibition era causing establishments like Merck&Co., Pfizer Inc.,and Eli Lilly along others investing heavily into research,and scaling up their medicinal end products. It wasn’t until late 1940s medical communities gained widespread access before knowing how essential these discoveries earlier made were – henceforth forthwith changing humanity.

Let’s Summarize Some Key Moments

  • Alexander Fleming (Scottish Bacteriologist) makes chance observation: Moldy bread inhibits bacterial activity
  • Flemming didn’t believe his discovery had any sort application initially
  • Ten years later, Chemists Howard Florey and Ernst Chain stumble upon Fleming’s work
  • English strains named Penicillium chrysogenum used for mass production
  • Scaling up process mimicked yeast fermentation of beer or wine but with specialized fungus spores
  • First large scale antibiotic manufacturing plant established in Illinois 1942

Concluding Thoughts

It took a while to produce enough penicillin to make an impact on human lives. In fact, it wasn’t until World War II that the demand for antibiotics gave them widespread distribution across society. They would continue gaining traction during the baby boom period since many common childhood diseases continued being fatal without medications [such as Strep Throat].

All things considered – the serendipitous intervention which started from lab mishaps led innovative individuals like Florey & Chain (later joined by Norman Heatley) into eventual accumulation of historic breakthroughs in medicine that few at the time could’ve even fathomed; paving paths for generations yet unseen.

Not bad eh? If you’re viewing this article -you’ve just learned something new soo… success! One can now ponder what other magnificent discoveries may be left undiscovered in folds of nature around us.– Here’s to Healthier Futures Ahead! Cheers!