4.3 Fleming, Florey and Chain’s development of penicillin

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  • 4.3 Fleming, Florey and Chain’s development of penicillin
    • Alexander Fleming and the discovery of Penicillin
      • Noticed something strange about his dirty petri dishes: one of them had developed a mould that appeared to have killed off the harmful bacteria that had been growing in the dish.
        • tested the mould and identified it as penicillin. people were accepting of his findings as it was a time when people were actively looking for chemical treatments.
          • didn't believe that it would work in the body as his first experiments with blood had proved ineffective.
    • Florey and Chain and the development of penicillin.
      • researching the neglected research that might be worth investigating
        • found Fleming's work and decided that the mould should be tested furhter
          • 1940: tested the penicillin extract in mice - promising
            • local police man with a blood infection: signs of recovery straight away, yet there was not enough to cure him. He died.
              • Nevertheless, penicillin was proved to be effective in the human body.
          • it was very difficult to produce penicillin in large quantities.
    • Mass production of Penicillin.
      • approached British pharmaceutical companies for assistance: it was in WWII and they wouldn't help
        • When to US pharmaceutical companies to begin penicillin production
          • Once the benefits of the drug were evident the US Gov. funded 21 pharmaceutical companies to begin mass production.
            • British companies become involved in 1943
    • Factors enabling the development of penicillin
      • Institutions: the US Gov. agreed to fund research for 5 years - this enabled development of methods to mass produce the drug.
      • Technology: development of new ways of mass producing and storing penicillin made it available in vast quantities.
      • Individuals: Florey and Chain built of Fleming's work. Florey refused to patent the drug, so that it was available for everyone.
      • Science: scientists were able to observe how penicillin attacked bacteria, enabling them to modify it.
      • Attitudes in society: there were no treatments for simple infection sin WWII so they need to find a solution. this made people willing to try anything
    • Use of penicillin
      • treating diseases caused by a certain family of bacteria.
      • used to prevent infection, particularly with patients who have teeth extracted.
      • encouraged scientists to look for other molds that could be used to fight bacterial infections.
      • doctors could offer treatments that worked against a wide rage of illnesses, confidence in medical treatments began to rise.
      • some bacteria are now resistant to penicillin.


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