Penicillin was referred to by many as tegh “miracle drug”. It was the first antibiotic proven to fight a bacterial infection without harming the host as well as become available through a natural growth method. A simple mould spore placed by accident on a petri dish resulted in what would eventually become a huge leap from the medical field by uncovering a different method for new cures for illnesses. The time of discovery of Penicillin could not have been better as many id the first test patients happened to be World War 2 soldiers ill with fatal bacterial infections. Over a very short time span, and during the height of the second world war, Penicillin ghad an incredible impact on history im medical, economical, and political ways. With the Allies having a tool in their back pocket that the Axis forces had no way of producing, and having government and private organizations funding the development of the drug, Penicillin had a bigger hand in economic recovery and human development than many give it credit for. In september of 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming returned to his laboratory from a month long vacation with his family. He examined his work with Staphylococcus bacteria cultures he left in petri dishes and noticed one dish had a substantial amount of sterile medium between a fuzzy, coarse, substance and the Staphylococcus bacterial growth.
After a significant amount of time and research dedicated to discovering what had caused the resistance of growth with the Staphylococcus culture, he came to the conclusion that it was a Penicillium mould spore. The mould released a “juice” that had a defensive property that av averted the growth of the bacteria.He tried this mound against several other bacteria species and discovered that it released a juice against specific types of bacteria , more specifically, Gram Positive bacteria, a common type to infect mammals. Fleming is responsible for coming up with the term Penicillin, as it is what he eventually referred to the “Juice” as. With previous antibiotics treatments being harmful to humans, Fleming tested the potential effects on animals, and even discovered that it did not progress to test the antibacterial possibilities that the Penicillium mould could achieveA decade after the accident discovery of the antibiotic agents the Penicillium mould created, two researchers working at oxford stumbled upon Fleming’s publishings on his discovery and saw the pharmaceutical potential it held.
Howard Florey and Ernst chain eventually ere able to accumulate enough Penicillium and create a necessary amount of Penicillin to test the antibiotic effects on animals and eventually humans. Results were promising and the outlook of Penicillin becoming an antibiotic treatment became larger by the day. Research to develop the substance as a drug was taking place just as Britain was entering into World War II, an in 1941 Florey and Chain moved their research to the U.
S. to protect their intel and initiate the possible mass production of Penicillin.Mid-way through WWII, penicillin had been rumored to potentially treat several ailments like pneumonia, ear infections, sore throats, rheumatic fever, gas gangrene, and other bacterial infections that have been fatal in previous occurrences.
With word spreading about a new drug that had been knowns to cure many bacterial infections, government agencies were adamant about getting this cure to the battlefield. The British medical research council as well as the newly introduced American office of scientific research and development, established by president roosevelt, quickly jumped on board with funding to quicken and further the research and development of this drug. Luckily, not just government aide was there to assist, many private organizations supplied funding for the development of the drug as well.
By 1943, 21 plants in America were in operation for the synthetic method of mass- producing penicillin for pharmaceutical use. Also during 1943, the Allied militaries began receiving an abundant supply of penicillin to allow the war- gained injuries that soldiers had received to be adequately treated without fatality as a promise. Throughout the initial studies in the early 1930’s, Fleming had sent out several samples and cultures of penicillin and penicillium across Europe. One war broke out and all areas were aware of the the drug, authorities questioned fleming about his dispersal of the sampled. He wasn’t exactly aware of where he sent them, but unfortunately, did sent samples to the Axis members pre- war.
The only non- Allied force that was able to successfully mass produce the drug was Germany, but not for long as their production area was destroyed before any major assistance on htir battlefield took place.Ownership, patents, and accreditations were heavily debated once penicillin had been introduced to the public. The original research leads, florey and chain believed that fleming and themselves should be heavily credited as well as the original research team for the discovery and development of the drug. British parliament believed they owned the rights and credits for the drug considering the discovery and original research had been performed on British territory. It is possible that britain was just trying to repair their economic status after the damage the war had done. Rockefeller’s trust claimed that its initial funding to migrate chain and Florey research to the United States lead to the ultimate production and dispersal of the drug, which also lead to several other private organizations claiming similar cases. The united states research had also turned the fungal developed drug into a synthetically developed drug, which is how it was created for medical use. Rightfully, Florey, Chain, and Fleming received the Nobel Prize in 1945 for the discovery of the drug Penicillin.
After the war and official pharmaceutical production of the drug had taken place, effects of Penicillin could be witnessed world-wide. Before the discovery of penicillin, average people relied heavily on preventative care and avoidance of being contaminated with the bacteria that caused illnesses, especially because treatment s for these illnesses are not very effective and generally resulted in death. After penicillin, many were able to go to a doctor and receive treatments that would work if they had a cut or a cough. Anyone that had a common cold, an ear infection or a staph infection after penicillin was able to see it similarly to how patients today see the illness, a simple antibiotic series gone from being gone. Syphilis patients were greatly impacted by penicillin as rates were at 4 out of every 1000 when the war was at its height, and dropped to only 86,000 cases 3 decades later even with a doubled population. Even though penicillin was not used to treat every illness, syphilis symptoms were similar to other illnesses and the drug helped in a hidden way.Scientist were able to utilize the research methods that penicillin unveiled and were able to create new drugs and discover antibiotics that had a larger range of effect than just aon gram positive bacteria.
The discovery penicillin gave hope to scientists and doctors that there is potentially a cure for every ailment. It also lead to a big boom in the pharmaceutical industry with having powerful drugs available for consumption rather than just the witch doctor methods previously practiced. It also opened up a new research competition opportunity between nations. With medical aide during wars, countries who have access to drugs, or an abundant supply of them, could better protect their soldiers and even gain economical advantage by owning the source of the product.
Essentially, trade for medicine was now option between nations as well as a leverage in warfare.Overall, the discovery of penicillin was more than just the discovery of a cure for many illnesses. It was a tool used to build up a stronger army during a war as well as provide understanding to new medical practices. Without its discovery, many medical advancements may not have taken place and our population may not be as large as it is due to premature death from diseases. WWII may not have turned out with a Allied victory due to the inability to treat wounded and sick soldiers, and with the drug’s economical impact, the government’s ability to supply war goods may have been jeopardized as well.
An accidental discovery was able to make a drastic world-wide impact, and in a very beneficial way.