Penicillin is a type of antibiotic medication made from mold that is effective against bacterial infections. Alexander Fleming first discovered the relationship with mold and developed the antibiotic in 1928.
Antibiotics have been used to treat infections for many centuries. The ancient Greeks used molds and plants to treat infections even though they didn’t understand the cause of the illness or the mechanisms by how to natural remedies worked.
Penicillin as a broad term is a group of antibiotic medications which are derived from mold. It was first discovered by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming in 1928. When he returned from vacation he found that the fungus, penicillium notatum, had contaminated a plate of staphylococcus bacteria he had left uncovered. He noticed that around the fungus there were circles where no bacteria existed. He drew a conclusion that the fungus produced a chemical which inhibited bacterial growth. He had the idea that he could use this on humans.
A police officer named Albert Alexander was the first person to be injected with penicillin. He had been infected after a scratch from a rose thorn and he was critically ill. Even though the scientists didn’t manage to save the patient’s life, they did manage to demonstrate some of the therapeutic effects of the drug.
Howard Florey and Ernst Chain managed to successfully managed to isolate penicillin and managed to investigate its properties in more detail. This work meant the drug could be mass produced. Howard Florey and Ernst Chain shared the nobel prize with Fleming for their work on Penicillin in 1945. Penicillin medications can be used to treat a range of different bacterial infections and is still used today.
Prior to the discovery of penicillin, many people died or did not heal from even the simplest of infections. Penicillin can treat infections such as:
Check out the rest of our Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans!