Penicillin bEN shARMA


Penicillin was discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming. It is considered to be the first natural antibiotic, which is a substance that prevents the growth of microorganisms. Before penicillin, there was no effective way to treat bacterial infections. The introduction of penicillin has allowed doctors to treat infections that were once considered fatal. This was shown mainly in World War II. Since penicillin was discovered, there have been many other antibiotics that have been developed as well.

History of Penicillin and How it Works

Penicillin treats bacterial infections by weakening the cell walls of bacteria. Cell walls are needed to reproduce, so when penicillin prevents bacteria from building cell walls, the bacteria are unable to reproduce and therefore cannot spread in the body. Penicillin was an accidental discovery. Fleming came home one day to find a Petri dish with Staphylococcus bacteria that was inhibited from growing. Although Fleming discovered it, he did not develop it enough for use for treating infections; that work was finished by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain. All three ended up winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine for working on penicillin.

Infections Before Penicillin

The discovery of penicillin was very significant in that it gives doctors an effective way to treat bacterial infections. This is important because before penicillin, even the smallest injury could lead to death. Even a small cut can still give space to enter the body. Before penicillin and antibiotics, doctors resorted to methods like bloodletting and applying chemicals like mercury to the body. These methods were not very effective and led to very dangerous side effects, so doctors were not able to effectively treat their patients. However, penicillin provided the solution, as it is able to prevent bacteria reproduction by breaking bacterial cell walls, so it can effectively fight against bacteria in the human body.

Penicillin and World War II

One of penicillin's most significant impacts was on soldiers during World War II. After penicillin had been developed and tested, the United States forces were encouraged to use penicillin to treat wounds from battle. As a result of penicillin, the number of deaths from infected wounds decreased by a large margin. Penicillin allowed soldiers to survive by preventing a wound from encountering infection. World War II was a showcase for what penicillin could achieve, as when the public learned about what penicillin accomplished on the battlefield, demand jumped, and penicillin started to be produced in the United States and became available to all patients. Not only did penicillin help in the war effort, but also the war allowed people to see what penicillin was capable of.

The Development of Other Antibiotics

The development of penicillin has also led to the discovery of many other antibiotics. Because of the popularity and effectiveness of penicillin, there was a race to produce other antibiotics. This is important because bacteria can become resistant to certain antibiotics by repeated and improper use of those antibiotics. Therefore, more antibiotics are needed to treat certain infections that others cannot treat. Other influential antibiotics such as streptomycin and cephalosporin were produced. This era of antibiotics all began with the production of penicillin, which opened up interest in producing more antibiotics to fulfill the demand of the population.


Created with images by Matt From London - "penicillin"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.