by Lena Martens
In September 1928, Alexander Fleming returned to his laboratory after being a month away with his family. Before he had left, Fleming had conducted research on petri dishes containing colonies of Staphylococcus, bacteria that causes boils, sore throats and abscesses. As Fleming was going through the petri dishes, he noticed one of the dishes with mold on it. Mold growing wasn't that unusual to Fleming, but this specific mold had killed the Staphylococcus that was on the dish. He was inspired to further experiment.
Fleming spent several weeks growing more mold trying to determine the substance that had killed the bacteria. After discussing the mold with C. J. La Touche a mycologist, they found it to be Penicillium mold, later called penicillin. Fleming then ran numerous experiments to determine what the effect of this mold had on other bacteria. Surprisingly the mold killed a large number of the bacteria. With further tests Fleming found that this mold was also non-toxic.
Needing the new drug immediately for the war front, production started quickly. The availability of penicillin during the war saved many lives that would have been lost due to bacterial infections in even minor diseases.
Fleming's research and discovery of penicillin saved millions of lives by stopping the growth of bacteria that is responsible for poisoning the blood and causing many other once fatal diseases.