In September of 1928, Dr. Alexander Fleming returned to St. Mary’s Hospital in London. He had been vacationing in Scotland, and was likely frustrated to find a very messy lab bench awaiting him.
Dr. Fleming noticed that a mold called Penicillium notatum had contaminated his Petri dishes. As he examined this under a microscope, he was surprised to see that this mold prevented the growth of the more common mold called Staphylococcus aureus. Over the next few weeks, he allowed the mold to grow further, and he was able to confirm these findings. He determined that perhaps this might be used to combat infections in humans.
Regarding the experience, he later stated: “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.”
In 1938, Dr. Howard Florey, the Director of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University, came across Fleming’s paper on the topic. He and his colleagues decided to unravel the science behind Fleming’s discovery. During the summer of 1940, they tested penicillin on mice, and eventually concluded that they had enough promising information to test it on humans. It took 2000 liters of mold culture fluid to obtain enough pure penicillin to treat one human sepsis case.
The first test case was an Oxford police constable named Albert Alexander. He had nicked his face while working in his rose garden. The area had become very infected and then spread to his eyes and scalp. After five days of injections, he began to recover. However, they could not produce enough penicillin to continue treatments, and he ultimately died.
In 1941, the British scientists began working with American scientists in Peoria, IL, to develop ways to produce the product on a more massive scale. During the first five months of 1942, 400 million units of pure penicillin were produced. It was used heavily during WWII with a very high success rate.
Mold Terminator, Inc. is proud to salute those who worked so hard and tirelessly to develop an unwanted item into a cure for thousands.
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Source: PBS. www.pbs.org. 3 March 2016