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these three ancient enemies of man
hand-in-hand across too much of the world.
Of the three,
can be said
to be the most deadly.
often fathers hunger,
This is the story of how one of the mightiest weapons against disease
It is the story
the first of the modern wonder drugs
known as antibiotics
the penicillins are only one group of antibiotics among many
and in laboratories throughout the world
the search goes on
to learn how the first of them, penicillin
was discovered and developed
one must know of the work of three british scientists
what they achieved
has revolutionized medicine
Sir Alexander Fleming,
for the initial discovery of penicillin
Dr. Ernst Boris Chain
and Sir Howard Florey
for their finding its curative power to benefits millions
Early, in the nineteen twenties
a young bacteriologist
worked in the inoculation department
of St Mary's hospital
familiar with antiseptics and inoculation
as weapons to help the human body battle against disease germs,
he began to wonder what natural defenses might be possessed by exposed parts of
such as the eyes.
In each place,
Fleming found a protective substance
which could destroy some germs
before they invaded the body.
Some germs but not all, and not the most deadly.
In one of the glass dishes where he cultured germs for his experiments,
fleming noticed one day in 1928
that some mold - such as appears on decaying food
had begun to grow -
a spoiled experiment.
but with mind alerted by the earlier work on protective substances,
he looked closer.
He saw that near to the mold,
no germs were growing.
Might it be that,
like the human body
produced a substance capable of destroying germs.
He made tests
and found that even some of the most dangerous germs
died near to the mold.
He then grew the mold
in a meat-brought liquid. The color of the liquid changed finally to a bright
this liquid proved lethal to germs.
even when greatly diluted
Not pure enough
to be injected into a human body
it was nevertheless effective
Fleming published what he had done
calling his substance Penicillin
Attempts to purify it
and to extract its essence failed.
In the 1930s
a new chapter opened
at the university
of oxford the professor of pathology Dr. Howard Florey was joined by doctor
Together, they planned a research project
on natural germ killing substances
now old papers
they formed a team
a great quest was on.
First, Chain and his colleagues set to work on the chemical problems of extraction and
they found a way of transferring the acted penicillin
until it was held within almost pure water
they threw off the water
which left a brown powder.
Here, was a powerful form of penicillin
still crude but which produced no ill effects in animal
Florey prepared the great test.
The germ streptococcus
is a killer
This, he injected into mice
Half of them,
then received the brown powder
those who have been given the penicillin
lived and were healthy.
and professor Florey declared it looks like a medical
but attempts to make it pure enough for men
caused it to lose its potency
Chain and a colleague doctor Abraham then devised another method
dissolving the crew of penicillin in ether
they passed it through a long tube
filled with aluminum
each substance producing layers of differing colors
in the yellow layer
they repeated the process
again and again.
Now, Florey could try penicillin on human beings
the results proved the healing power of Penicillin
but by now
world war two was raging
the need for penicillin's healing power
was enormous for soldiers and for civillians
but in nineteen forty one
purified penicillin was still desperately short
and britain was hard-pressed by air attacks.
To make the quantities needed
it was decided to seek help in the united states
Here, scientist devised better ways of culturing penicillin
which could give much bigger yields
production in quantity
could not be foreseen
with encouragement from their government
american drug companies tackled the difficulties of producing penicillin
on an industrial scale.
Florey returned to Chain and the others
able to look forward to supplies for further research
had a patient dying of meningitis
Fleming turned to Florey
and Florey gave him all the penicillin that could be made available, and with it
Profoundly impressed by this
personal experience of Penicillin dramatic power,
Fleming addressed himself
to the british government
about the need for large-scale production
and the press
took up the cause.
The big big british chemical and drug companies
and the research workers
now also protected the big scale production of penicillin
The mold was grown in thousands of flasks
joined the huge supplies
now coming from the united states
to give life
to hundreds of thousands of soldiers
By the end of the war
flasks have been replaced by great steel vats
each making 15000 gallons
of Penicillin liquid
and huge factories way of production
both in britain
and the united states
Penicillin was now
for the world.
curing the sick
But some deadly germs
had forms which resisted Penicillin.
This was a challenge
which research had to meet.
In the middle of the 1950s,
a famous british drug company
set up a special team
to work in close collaboration with professor Chain
and in 1959
This is the core,
the main building block
of a molecule of penicillin.
it possesses no germ killing power
but add other groups of atoms to it
and you make a penicillin
add one group of atoms to it
and you make the original penicillin
and you make an ever growing family of new Penicillins.
some of these can tackle on germs which originally resisted,
and some can carry the attacked to germs not formally sensitive to penicillin at all.
And in the meantime workers continued at Oxford,
where yet another mold, has produced yet another penicillin like substance
These two have a basic core
which intern contiguous to build a family of antibiotics to carry further
the attacks against germs which formally
All these mighty weapons against disease
stem in some way
from the forging of the first one, Penicillin.
A great discovery,
for which, in 1945,
the world likely and gratefully honnored doctor E.B. Chain,
Sir Howard Florey,
and Sir Alexander Fleming;
pioneers in a struggle which promises now to drive back that ancient enemy, disease.