The invention of Penecillan

Pre-penecillin infection treatments

Up until the 1800's bloodletting and the use of potions that had no proven affect on infection were used. These methods would sometimes do harm than good.

Ancient Greece- The Greeks use moldy bread as a way to treat infected wounds.

Pre-pennecillin continued

Civil War- over 2/3 of all casualties through the civil war were killed by infection and diseases. Amputations was commonly used to prevent the spread of infections diseases.

The dicovery of pennecilin

After returning from a summer vacation in Scotland, Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist in St. Mary's hospital, discovered that a petri dish with bacteria colonies in it was contaminated with the mold Penicillin. Most scientists would have discarded this, but Fleming studied it closer and found that the mold was killing the bacteria. It took him weeks to collect enough mold to claim his findings. Unfortunately Fleming didn't have both the resources and chemistry background to take the next steps in his research.


  • 1938- Dr. Howard Florey started developing penicillin and began doing extensive research on the mold. He and Dr. Ernest Chain partnered up and successfully extracted many series of penicillin mold fluids.
  • Summer 1940- An experiment done on 50 mice infected with streptococcus was performed. The half treated with penicillin survived, while the other half died horrible deaths. This made Florey feel confident enough to test penicillin on humans.


  • September 1940- Albert Alexander was treated with penicillin. After a few days of injections Alexander began to recover, but unfortunate they did not have enough penicillin to eradicate the infection. Alexander died.
  • 1941- Shortly after the US entered World War ll a new strain of the penicillin mold was discovered. It yielded over 200 times more doses than the old strain of penicillin. The penicillin was mass produced and saved thousands of lives in the war.


  • By may of 1942 pharmaceutical companies were producing penecillin at a rate of 650 billion units per month.


  • Fleming, Florey, and Chain won Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine

The Impact of penicillin

The advancement of antibiotics in the 1900's greatly impacted the world. The population has increased greatly and people are living longer.Before ,a simple cut could result in death. This medical advancement could however cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. Fleming had warned this at his Nobel prize speech. Despite this the age that Fleming, Florey and Chain had ushered in will continue to change the world for a while.


Markel, Howard, Dr. "The Real Story Behind Penicillin." PBS. PBS, 27 Sept. 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Civil War Diseases - Civil War Academy - American Civil War." Civil War Academy American Civil War. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Alexander Fleming Discovery and Development of Penicillin - Landmark - American Chemical Society." Alexander Fleming Discovery and Development of Penicillin - Landmark - American Chemical Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.