Penicillin | A Mistake Changing the World

Fleming's Penicillin invention opened a new era in the development of treatment

Penicillin | A Mistake Changing the World
Penicillin | A Mistake Changing the World

Penicillin | A Mistake Changing the World


Penicillin was a life-saver during World War II. People know how destructive it was. Mostly the war made much baleful for using chemical gas. This chemical gas takes peoples life randomly. At the same time, another chemical material Penicillin save thousands of people's life. When World War II was going on, hundreds of people were dying in general coup or operation. There were also hundreds of bacterial diseases, including syphilis, tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, gonorrhea. Then came Penicillin that turns human history.

Because of the general coup, the fragile soldiers quickly died into the throes of germs. Like the common Dettol, Savlon, antiseptic keeps the surroundings clean. But when the germs enter the patient's body, it is impossible to handle them without an antibiotic. The only antibiotic can reduce the germ's attack inside the body. So, the deft scientist tried to search the antibiotic.

In September of 1928, Alexander Fleming was working to find out any possible antidote for typhoid. Fleming was from a poor Scottish family. He was a doctor of the Royal army in the First World War. There Fleming saw that how the slightest wound to the soldiers became lethal after exposure to germs. He returned to St. Mary's Hospital in 1918 from the war.

One day he was working with a bacterium called Staphylococcus. At that time, one day, Fleming made a mistake by leaving the bacteria in the laboratory without having to clean the Petri dishes.

A few days later, Fleming found something on the plate that caused prevent the bacteria from growing around the dish. After that, on September 28, 1928, Fleming confirmed that this was precise because of the birth of a prevalent fungus called Penicillium. Many have called this phenomenon "Most Fortunate Mistake" in the history of science.

Fleming was known to have almost the same type of penicillin fungus used to make the famous Danish Blue Cheese. Incidentally, another scientist, William Roberts, had left a few pieces of blue cheese in his laboratory in 1874. It remains intact even after a few weeks of fall. There was no digestion. This incident made him very worried. After extensive research on these cheeses, the results indicate that the blue cheese's penicillium is mostly responsible for this phenomenon. Luis Pastor also conducted a test to confirm that anthrax germs did not grow in the penicillium-growing container.

After an extended test, Fleming confirmed that the penicillium fungus releases a chemical called penicillin, which fights bacteria. Besides, this chemical does not cause Scarlet Fever, pneumonia, diphtheria, and even deadly meningitis. Penicillin does not also cause germs like gonorrhea. Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease, and pneumonia infestation were spreading throughout the world in the coldest European countries. Fleming thinks about how to deal with these diseases with these chemicals. Originally, from his penicillium uptake in his lab, he began researching how to dissociate penicillin.

Fleming's research was published in the mid-1929s in the journal "British Journal of Experimental Pathology." But this study did not respond well to scientists. Fleming worked on penicillin from 1929 to 1940. The scientist decided to separate the material from the fungus and to quit being frustrated at one point by trying to use penicillin in medical treatment.


Before leaving this experiment, Fleming met two young researchers Howard Florey and Earnest Boris Kenney. Norman Heatley was also with them. All three worked combinedly to discover the chemical structure of penicillin and how it can be separated. The chemicals were then used on rats and several other animals. Howard Flore and Ernest Boris flew to America shortly after World War II started in 1941.


Penicillin applied to the first civilian patient Anne Miller in March 1942 in an American hospital, whose complications after miscarriage subsequently turned into fatal bacterial infections. The patient was no hope to survive. But the Penicillin worked successfully. This set the way of Penicillin. 

During World War II from January to May 1942, American pharmaceutical companies manufactured 400 million units of penicillin in just a few months. By the end of the war, it is seen that 650 billion units of penicillin is produced, which reduces the mortality rate of germs in the Allies by 90 percent. In American and European media, penicillin is regarded as an ideal tool to win the Allied war.