History of the discovery of penicillin - biographies of researchers, mass production and implications for medicine

From the course of school history, many people remember that the life expectancy until the modern era was very short. The men and women who lived to the age of thirty were considered long-livers, and the percentage of infant mortality reached incredible values.

Childbirth was a kind of dangerous lottery: the so-called puerperal fever (infection of the woman's mother and death from sepsis) was considered a common complication, and there was no cure for it.

Wounding in battle (and people fought at all times a lot and almost constantly), usually led to death. And more often than not because vital organs were damaged: even limb injuries meant inflammation, blood poisoning and death.

Ancient history and the Middle Ages

Nevertheless, people from ancient times knew about the healing properties of certain products in relation to infectious diseases. For example, 2500 years ago, fermented soybean flour in China was used to treat purulent wounds, and even earlier, the Maya Indians used mold with a special type of fungus for the same purpose.

In Egypt, the construction of the pyramids moldy bread was the prototype of modern antibacterial agents: dressings with it significantly increased the chance of recovery in case of injury. The use of mold fungi was purely practical in nature until scientists were interested in the theoretical side of the issue. However, the invention of antibiotics in their modern form was still far away.

New time

In this era, science has rapidly developed in all directions, and medicine has not become an exception. Causes of purulent infections as a result of injury or surgery were described in 1867 by D. Lister, a surgeon from the UK.

It was he who established that the causative agents of inflammation are bacteria, and suggested a way to fight them with carbolic acid. Thus arose an antiseptic, which for many years remained the only more or less successful method of prevention and treatment of suppuration.

A brief history of the discovery of antibiotics: penicillin, streptomycin and others

Doctors and researchers noted the low effectiveness of antiseptics against pathogens that have penetrated deep into the tissue. In addition, the effect of drugs was weakened by the patient’s biological fluids and was short. More effective drugs were required, and scientists all over the world were actively working in this direction.

In which century antibiotics were invented?

The phenomenon of antibiosis (the ability of some microorganisms to destroy others) was discovered in the late 19th century.

  • In 1887, one of the founders of modern immunology and bacteriology - the world-famous French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur - described the destructive effect of soil bacteria on the causative agent of tuberculosis.
  • Based on his research, the Italian Bartolomeo Gozio in 1896 obtained mycophenolic acid in the course of experiments, which became one of the first antibacterial agents.
  • A little later (in 1899), German doctors Emmerich and Lov discovered piocenase, which suppresses the vital activity of the causative agents of diphtheria, typhoid and cholera.
  • And earlier - in 1871 - the Russian doctors Polotebnov and Manassein discovered the destructive effect of mold fungi on certain disease-causing bacteria and new possibilities in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Unfortunately, their ideas, presented in the joint work “Pathological significance of mold”, did not pay enough attention to themselves and were not widely used in practice.
  • In 1894, I. I. Mechnikov substantiated the practical use of fermented milk products containing acidophilic bacteria for the treatment of certain intestinal disorders. This was later confirmed by practical studies of the Russian scientist E. Gartier.

However, the era of antibiotics began in the 20th century with the discovery of penicillin, which marked the beginning of a real revolution in medicine.

Antibiotic inventor

The name of Alexander Fleming is known from school textbooks of biology even to people far from science. It is he who is considered the pioneer of a substance with antibacterial action - penicillin. For an invaluable contribution to science in 1945, a British researcher received the Nobel Prize. Of interest to the general public are not only the details of the discovery made by Fleming, but also the life of the scientist, as well as the peculiarities of his personality.

The future Nobel Prize winner in Scotland was born on the Lochwild farm in the large family of Hug Fleming. Education began Alexander began in Darvel, where he studied until the age of twelve. After two years of study at the Academy, Kilmarnock moved to London, where older brothers lived and worked. The young man worked as a clerk, while at the same time being a student at the Royal Polytechnic Institute. Fleming decided to practice medicine following the example of his brother Thomas (ophthalmologist).

Having entered the medical school at St. Mary’s Hospital, Alexander received a scholarship to this educational institution in 1901. At first, the young man did not give a pronounced preference for any particular area of ​​medicine. His theoretical and practical work in surgery during his years of study testified to his remarkable talent, but Fleming did not feel particularly addicted to working with the “living body,” and thus became the inventor of penicillin.

The influence of Almroth Wright, a famous professor of pathology who came to the hospital in 1902, turned out to be crucial for a young doctor.

Earlier, Wright developed and successfully applied vaccination against typhoid fever, but his interest in bacteriology did not stop there. He created a group of promising young professionals, which included Alexander Fleming. After receiving a degree in 1906, he was invited to the team and worked in the research laboratory of the hospital all his life.

During the First World War, a young scientist served in the Royal Research Army in the rank of captain. During the period of hostilities and later, in the laboratory established by Wright, Fleming studied the effects of wounds with explosives and methods of preventing and treating purulent infections. And penicillin was discovered by Sir Alexander already on September 28, 1928.

Unusual opening story

It is no secret that many important discoveries were made at random. However, for the research activity of Fleming the factor of chance is of particular importance. Back in 1922, he made his first significant discovery in the field of bacteriology and immunology, having caught a cold and sneezing into a Petri dish with pathogenic bacteria. After some time, the scientist discovered that the pathogen was killed in the place where his saliva entered the colony. So lysozyme was discovered and described - an antibacterial substance contained in human saliva.

This is how a Petri dish with germinated Penicillium notatum mushrooms looks like.

No less randomly, the world learned about penicillin. Here we must pay tribute to the negligent attitude of staff to sanitary and hygienic requirements. Whether the Petri dishes were poorly washed, or the spores of the mold fungus were brought from a nearby laboratory, but as a result Penicillium notatum got on the crops of staphylococcus aureus. Another happy coincidence was the long departure of Fleming. The future inventor of penicillin was not in the hospital for a month, thanks to which the mold had time to grow.

After returning to work, the scientist discovered the consequences of negligence, but did not immediately throw away the damaged samples, and took a closer look at them. Finding that there is no colony of staphylococcus around the grown mold, Fleming became interested in this phenomenon and began to study it in detail.

He managed to identify the substance that caused the death of bacteria, which he called penicillin. Understanding the importance of his discovery for medicine, the Briton devoted more than ten years to research of this substance. Works were published in which he justified the unique properties of penicillin, recognizing, however, that at this stage the drug is unsuitable for the treatment of people.

Penicillin, obtained by Fleming, proved its bactericidal activity against many gram-negative microorganisms and safety for people and animals. However, the drug was unstable, therapy required the frequent administration of large doses. In addition, it was attended by too many protein impurities, which gave negative side effects. Experiments on the stabilization and purification of penicillin were conducted by a British scientist since the very first antibiotic was discovered and until 1939. However, they did not lead to positive results, and Fleming lost interest in the idea of ​​using penicillin to treat bacterial infections.

Penicillin invention

The second chance opened by Fleming penicillin received in 1940, the year.

At Oxford, Howard Florey, Norman W. Heatley and Ernst Chain, combining their knowledge of chemistry and microbiology, began to produce a preparation suitable for mass use.

It took about two years to isolate the pure active substance and test it in a clinical setting. At this stage, the discoverer was involved in the research. Fleming, Flory, and Cheyne succeeded in successfully curing several severe cases of sepsis and pneumonia, which made penicillin its rightful place in pharmacology.

Medicine before the invention of penicillin

For many centuries, medicine was unable to save the lives of all patients. The first step towards a breakthrough was the discovery of the fact of the nature of the origin of many ailments.

The point is that most diseases are caused by the destructive effects of microorganisms.

Quickly enough, scientists realized that pathogenic bacteria can be destroyed with the help of other microorganisms that show "hostility" to the causative agents of ailments.

In the course of their medical practice, several scientists at once in the XIX came to this conclusion. Among them was Louis Pasteur, who discovered that the action of certain types of microorganisms leads to the death of anthrax bacilli.

But this information was not enough. It was necessary to find concrete effective ways to solve the problem. All attempts by doctors to create a universal medicine failed.

And only pure chance and brilliant guess helped Alexander Fleming, the scientist who invented penicillin.

The beneficial properties of mold

It is difficult to believe that the most common mold has bactericidal properties. But it really is. After all, it is not just a greenish-gray substance, but a microscopic fungus.

It arises from even smaller germs that hover in the air. Under conditions of poor air circulation and other factors, mold forms from them.

Penicillin has not yet been discovered, but in the writings of Avicenna of the 11th century there are references to the treatment of purulent diseases with the help of mold.

In the 60s of the XIX century, Russian physicians Alexei Polotebnov and Vyacheslav Manassein seriously argued. The subject of the dispute was mold. Polotebnov believed that she was the ancestor of all microbes. Manassein insisted on the opposite point of view, and in order to prove his case, he conducted a series of studies.

He watched the growth of mold spores, which he planted in a nutrient medium. As a result, V. Manassein saw that the development of bacteria did not occur precisely at the sites of mold growth. His opinion has now been confirmed empirically: mold really blocks the growth of other microorganisms. His opponent acknowledged the fallacy of his statement.

Moreover, Polotebnov himself began to scrutinize the antibacterial properties of mold. There is evidence that he even successfully applied them in the treatment of poorly healing skin ulcers. Polotebnov devoted several chapters of his scientific work to the description of the properties of mold. In the same place, the scientist recommended using these features in medicine, in particular, for the treatment of skin diseases.

But this idea did not inspire other medical professionals and was unfairly forgotten.

Who invented penicillin

This merit belongs to the medical scientist Alexander Fleming. He was a professor in the laboratory of the hospital sv. Mary City of London. The main topic of his research activities is the growth and properties of staphylococci. The discovery of penicillin, he made by accident.

Fleming was not particularly careful, rather the opposite. Once, leaving on the desktop unwashed cups with bacterial cultures, a few days later he noticed the formed mold.

He was interested in the fact that in the space around the mold the bacteria were destroyed.

Fleming gave the name of the substance released by the mold. He called it penicillin. After conducting a large number of experiments, the Scientist became convinced that this substance can kill various types of pathogenic bacteria.

What year was penicillin invented? In 1928, the observation of Alexander Fleming gave the world this miraculous substance.

Production and use

Fleming could not learn how to get penicillin, so at first practical medicine was not very interested in his discovery. Those who invented penicillin as a medicine were Govad Florey and Chain Ernst. They, together with their colleagues, isolated pure penicillin and created on its basis the world's first antibiotic.

In 1944, during World War II, United States scientists were able to produce penicillin industrially. Testing the drug took a little time. Almost immediately penicillin began to use the allied forces to treat the wounded. When the war ended, the civilian population of the United States was also able to purchase a miracle cure.

Everyone who invented penicillin (Fleming, Florey, Chain) won the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Penicillin: the history of discovery in Russia

When the Great Patriotic War was still going on, JV Stalin made numerous attempts to purchase a license for the production of penicillin in Russia. But the United States behaved ambiguously.

At first, one amount was named, I must say, astronomical. But later it was increased two more times, explaining these increases with incorrect initial calculations. As a result, the negotiations were unsuccessful.

On the question of who invented penicillin in Russia, there is no definite answer. The search for ways to produce analogues was entrusted to the microbiologist Zinaida Ermolyeva. She was able to get a substance called subsequently krustozin. But by its properties, this drug is much inferior to penicillin, and the production technology itself was laborious and expensive.

It was decided to still buy a license. The seller was Ernst Chain. After that, the development of technology and its launch into production began. This process was supervised by Nikolai Kopylov. Industrial production of penicillin was established fairly quickly. For this, Nikolai Kopylov was awarded the Stalin Prize.

Antibiotics in general and penicillin in particular, of course, have truly unique properties. But today, more and more scientists are concerned that many bacteria and microbes develop resistance to this therapeutic action.

This problem now requires careful study and search for possible solutions, because indeed, there may come a time when some bacteria will no longer respond to the action of antibiotics.

Inventions and inventors

Sir Alexander Fleming is known to the world for being the inventor of penicillin, the world's first antibiotic. But the famous bacteriologist always believed that saving lives could not be a source of enrichment. Therefore, in no way claimed to authorship in the invention of penicillin. Today we are accustomed to many things.

Despite the fact that their invention, the discovery at one time changed our life beyond recognition. Today we take for granted electricity and everything that works on it: a refrigerator, a microwave, washing machines, etc. Now we can not do without computers, smartphones, the Internet. It seems to us that all this has always been.

We do not even notice the value of all these inventions, we do not appreciate the efforts of the people who have worked on it. But this article is not devoted to household amenities, but to a medicine that saves human lives. Today we are accustomed to the fact that in the pharmacy you can buy a variety of antibiotics. But there was a time when they did not exist.

In the First World War, thousands of soldiers died not from wounds, but from dysentery, tuberculosis, typhoid, and pneumonia. Because then there were no antibiotics that could help them. The inventor of antibiotics could fundamentally change this, not the best for people, situation.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the cause of high mortality was not diseases, but postoperative complications, blood poisoning. Without penicillin, doctors could not help hopelessly ill people. Although in the 19th century, French microbiologist Louis Pasteur suggested the possibility of the destruction of one microorganism - bacteria, the other - with fungi.

Pasteur noticed that the anthrax bacterium is killed by other microbes. As a result, this discovery did not provide a ready means for the salvation of mankind. But scientists all over the world, having learned about it, began to look for answers to the arisen questions: which microbes destroy bacteria, how it happens, etc.

While the answer has existed since the birth of life on Earth.

It is a mold. The annoying mold for people, always accompanying humanity, became its healer. In the 1860s, a mold fungus that spreads in the form of a spore, initiated a scientific debate between Alexey Polotebny and Vyacheslav Manassein.

The dispute in which the scientific discovery occurred

Russian doctors argue about the nature of the mold. Polotebnov claimed that all the germs had gone from the mold. Manassein did not agree with him. This dispute served as the greatest discovery of the healing properties of mold. To prove his point, Manassein began to investigate the green mold.

And after some time I noticed an interesting fact: in the immediate vicinity of the mold fungus, there were no bacteria. Hence the logical conclusion: mold somehow hinders the development of other microorganisms. Polothin came to the same conclusion when he saw that the liquid, next to the mold was clean. In his opinion, this indicated that there were no bacteria in it.

Such a fruitful loss in a scientific dispute prompted Polotebnova to continue the started research with a new goal - to study the bactericidal properties of mold. For this, he sprayed an emulsion with a mold on the skin of people suffering from skin diseases. The result was stunning: the ulcers that underwent similar treatment disappeared much earlier than those with which they did nothing.

In 1872, the doctor published an article in which he outlined his discovery and recommended this method of treatment.

But the science of the whole world simply did not notice this publication, doctors from different countries continued to treat patients with antediluvian drugs, which can now be taken as the usual set of medical charlatans: bleeding, various powders from dried animal remains and similar preparations. Just think that these “medicines” were used Medicine was already at a time when the Wright brothers created their first aircraft, and Einstein worked on his theory of relativity. And who knows, perhaps the inventor of antibiotics would be a completely different person if the learned men of the world paid attention to the research of the Russian doctor in his time

This is penicillin!

The liquid environment in which the mold was found to be even more damaging to bacteria. She, even if it is dissolved in water 1 to 20, completely destroyed the bacteria.

Understanding the importance of his discovery, Fleming left his other research and devoted himself entirely to the study of the fluid he discovered. In the course of his research, he studied the manifestations of the antibacterial properties of the fungus.

It was important to find all the parameters for which these properties become maximum:

  • what day of growth
  • under what nutrient medium
  • at what temperature

The scientist found that the fluid secreted by mold, destroys only bacteria and does not cause any harm to animals. He called the obtained and studied liquid penicillin.

In 1929, Fleming at the London Medical Research Club publicly spoke about a new drug found and researched. And again, the message of great importance from the inventor of antibiotics was practically ignored - just as in his time the medical article of Polotebnov.

However, the Scotsman, in full accordance with the temperament of his people? turned out to be much more stubborn than the Russian doctor. At all conferences, speeches, congresses and meetings of medical luminaries, the inventor of antibiotics Fleming constantly talked about the means open to them for the destruction of pathogenic bacteria.

But the scientist was faced with another very important task - it was necessary to somehow absorb pure penicillin from the mixture, while also preserving its integrity.

Making the first antibiotic

To isolate penicillin, it took more than one year. Fleming and his assistants undertook many experiments. But penicillin was destroyed in a strange environment. In the end, it became clear that microbiology could not solve this problem without the help of chemistry.

It took 10 years for Fleming's first statement about penicillin to provide information about the amazing medicine to the American continent. The discovery of a Scottish scientist interested two Englishmen who settled in America.

It was a professor of pathology at one of the Oxford institutes, Howard Fleury, and his colleague, biochemist Ernst Chain. They were in search of a topic for joint research. In 1939 they found her.

Their subject for scientific work was the task of isolating penicillin.

The Second World War became a wide field of approbation of the received antibiotic. In 1942, penicillin in the first, but not the last time, saved the life of a man dying from meningitis. This fact, becoming publicly available, made a last impression.

Doctors were also impressed. But to organize the mass production of penicillin in England and failed, so it was opened in America in 1943. In the same year, an order was received from the US government for 120 million units of the drug.

Fleur, Chain and Fleming received the Nobel Prize for their outstanding discovery in 1945. The inventor of antibiotics, Fleming, was awarded dozens of times with all sorts of scientific titles and awards.

He has a knighthood, 25 honorary degrees, 26 medals, 18 awards, 13 awards and honorary membership in 89 academies of sciences and scientific societies.

He remained forever in the memory of mankind and on his grave today we can see a thank-you inscription from all the people of the planet - “Alexander Fleming - the inventor of penicillin”.

Antibiotics - an international invention

Scientists from different countries were looking for a drug to combat harmful bacteria. This search has been conducted since people could see them through a microscope and first learned about their existence. A special need for such a medicine has ripened at the beginning of the Second World War. USSR scientists also worked on this problem.

In 1942, Professor Zinaida Yermolyeva was able to isolate penicillin from the mold extracted from the wall of the Moscow bomb shelter. In 1944, after conducting a series of experimental studies, she tested the resulting drug on seriously wounded soldiers of the Soviet army.

Her penicillin became a powerful weapon for field doctors and a healing tool for many soldiers wounded in the battles of the Great Patriotic War. In the same year, after approbation of penicillin Yermolyeva, its mass production was established in the Soviet Union. Antibiotics are not only penicillin, they are a wide range of medicines.

Gauze, who received gramicidin in 1942, worked on the creation of an antibiotic. And also Waksman is an American of Ukrainian origin, who in 1944 isolated streptomycin.

All the scientists mentioned in this article presented the world with a new, healthy time, the time of antibiotics. Now we are not threatened with death from many previously incurable diseases.

The cure for them is now customary for us, it is in every pharmacy. The most interesting thing in this story (except for Fleming’s dirty table, of course) is that no patent was granted to a penicillin patent. Neither the inventor of antibiotics did not want to cash in on saving human lives.

Watch the Penicillin film about how these historical events took place:

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How were infectious diseases treated

Without knowing the world of antibiotics, people lived according to the principle: “Only the strongest survive,” according to the principle of natural selection. Women died from sepsis during childbirth, and the soldiers from blood poisoning and suppuration of open wounds.

At that time, they could not find a remedy for effective cleansing of wounds and exclusion of infection, therefore, healers and healers often used local antiseptics. Later, in 1867, a surgeon from the United Kingdom identified the infectious causes of suppuration and the benefit of carbolic acid.

Then it was the main treatment of purulent wounds, without the participation of antibiotics.

The development of European scientists

The founder of bacteriology and immunology is the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, who in the nineteenth century described in detail the harmful effects of soil bacteria on tuberculosis pathogens.

The world-famous scientist has proved by laboratory methods that some microorganisms - bacteria can be exterminated by others - mold fungi.

The beginning of scientific discoveries was laid, the prospects were ambitious.

The well-known Italian Bartolomeo Gozio in 1896 invented in his laboratory mycophenolic acid, which they began to call one of the first antibiotic drugs.

Three years later, German doctors Emmerich and Lov discovered piocenase, a synthetic substance that can reduce the pathogenic activity of pathogens of diphtheria, typhoid and cholera, and demonstrate a stable chemical reaction against the activity of microbes in the nutrient medium. Therefore, disputes in science on the topic of who invented antibiotics have not ceased even now.

Penicillin inventor in the USA

American researcher Zelman Waxman was simultaneously engaged in the development of antibiotics, but in the United States.

In 1943, he was able to obtain an effective broad-spectrum synthetic component for tuberculosis and plague called streptomycin.

Later, its industrial production was established in order to destroy the harmful bacterial flora from a practical position.

Chronology of discoveries

The creation of antibiotics was gradual, using the colossal experience of generations, proven general scientific facts.

To antibacterial therapy in modern medicine has turned out so successful, many scientists "put a hand to this."

Alexander Fleming is officially considered the inventor of antibiotics, but other legendary personalities also helped patients. Here is what you need to know:

  • 1896 - B. Gosio created mycophenolic acid against anthrax,
  • 1899 - R. Emmerich and O. Low discovered a local antiseptic based on pyocenase,
  • 1928 - A. Fleming discovered an antibiotic,
  • 1939 - D. Gerhard received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for prontosyl's anti-bacterial action,
  • 1939 - N.A. Krasilnikov and A.I. Korenyako became inventors of the antibiotic mycetin, R. Dyubo discovered thyrothricin,
  • 1940 - E. B. Cheyne and G. Florey proved the existence of a stable penicillin extract,
  • 1942 - Z. Waksman proposed the creation of the medical term "antibiotic."

History of the discovery of antibiotics

The inventor decided to become a medical doctor following the example of his elder brother Thomas, who in England received a diploma and worked as an ophthalmologist. Many interesting and fateful events happened in his life, which allowed him to make this grand discovery, provided an opportunity to productively destroy pathogenic flora, ensure the death of entire colonies of bacteria.

Alexander Fleming's research

The discovery of European scientists was preceded by an unusual story that occurred in 1922. Having caught a cold, the inventor of antibiotics did not put on a mask while working and accidentally sneezed into a Petri dish.

After a while, I suddenly discovered that harmful microbes had died at the site of saliva. It was a significant step in the fight against pathogenic infections, the ability to cure a dangerous disease.

The result of this laboratory research was devoted to scientific work.

The next fateful coincidence in the work of the inventor happened six years later, when in 1928 the scientist left for a month to rest with his family, having previously made staphylococcus crops in a nutrient medium from agar-agar. Upon my return, I found that the mold separated itself from the staphylococci with a clear liquid, which was not viable for bacteria.

Obtaining active active substance and clinical studies

Considering the experience and achievements of the inventor of antibiotics, microbiology scientists Howard Florey and Ernst Chain at Oxford decided to go ahead and start producing a product that is suitable for mass use. Laboratory studies were carried out for 2 years, as a result of which the pure active substance was determined. He was tested in the society of scientists by the inventor of antibiotics.

With this innovation, Florey and Chein cured several complicated cases of progressive sepsis and pneumonia. Further, the penicillins developed in the laboratory began to successfully treat such terrible diagnoses as osteomyelitis, gas gangrene, fever, fever, staphylococcal septicemia, syphilis, syphilis, and other invasive infections.

What year was penicillin invented

The official date for nationwide antibiotic recognition is 1928. However, this kind of synthetic substances have been identified before - at the internal level. The inventor of antibiotics is Alexander Fleming, but European, Russian scientists could compete for this honorary title. Scotsman managed to glorify his name in history, thanks to this scientific discovery.

Mass production

Since the discovery was officially recognized during the Second World War, it was very difficult to start production. However, everyone understood that with his participation, millions of lives could be saved.

Therefore, in 1943, under the conditions of hostilities, a leading American company took up the mass production of antibiotic drugs.

In this way, it was possible not only to reduce mortality rates, but also to increase the life expectancy of the civilian population.

Application during the Second World War

Such a scientific discovery was particularly appropriate during the period of hostilities, since thousands of people died of purulent wounds and large-scale blood poisoning. These were the first experiments on humans that gave a sustained therapeutic effect. After the war, the production of such antibiotics not only continued, but also increased by several times.

The value of the invention of antibiotics

To this day, modern society should be grateful that scientists of their time managed to come up with antibiotics that are effective against infections and put their developments into practice.

Adults and children can safely take advantage of this pharmacological prescription, cure a number of dangerous diseases, and avoid potential complications and death.

The inventor of antibiotics is not forgotten at the present time.

Positive points

Thanks to antibiotics, death from pneumonia and fever has become rare. In addition, there is a positive trend in such dangerous diseases as typhoid fever, and tuberculosis.

With the help of modern antibiotics, it is possible to exterminate the pathogenic flora of the body, cure dangerous diagnoses at an early stage of infection, and eliminate global blood contamination.

The infant mortality rate has also noticeably decreased, women die at birth much less frequently than in the Middle Ages.

Negative aspects

The inventor of antibiotics did not know then that, over time, the pathogenic microorganisms would adapt to the antibiotic environment and cease to die under the influence of penicillin. In addition, there is no cure for all pathogens, the inventor of this development has not yet appeared, although modern scientists have been striving for this for years, decades.

Pathogenic microorganisms, by their nature, turned out to be so-called “inventors”, since, under the influence of broad-spectrum antibiotic drugs, they are able to gradually mutate, acquiring increased resistance to synthetic substances. The issue of bacterial resistance for modern pharmacology is particularly acute.

The information presented in the article is for informational purposes only. Article materials do not call for self-treatment. Only a qualified doctor can diagnose and advise on treatment based on the individual characteristics of a particular patient.

The first steps to the invention

At the moment, it is widely known in which century antibiotics were invented. There are no questions also regarding who invented them. However, as in the case of antibiotics, we only know the name of the person who came as close as possible to the discovery and made it. Usually one problem is addressed by a large number of scientists in different countries.

The first step to the invention of the drug was the discovery of antibiosis - the destruction of some microorganisms by others.

Doctors from the Russian Empire Manassein and Polotebnov were studying the properties of mold. One of their conclusions of their work was the assertion about the ability of the mold to fight various bacteria. They used mold-based products to treat skin diseases.

Then the Russian scientist Mechnikov noticed the ability of bacteria, which are contained in fermented milk products, to have a beneficial effect on the digestive tract.

Closest to the discovery of a new medicine was a French doctor by the name of Duchesne. He noted that Arabs used mold to heal wounds on the backs of horses. Taking samples of mold, the doctor conducted experiments on the treatment of guinea pigs from intestinal infections and received positive results. His dissertation did not receive a response in the scientific community of that time.

This is a brief history of the path to the invention of antibiotics. In fact, many ancient peoples were aware of the ability of mold to positively influence the treatment of wounds. However, the lack of necessary methods and techniques made the emergence of a pure drug at that time impossible. The first antibiotic could appear only in the 20th century.

Direct discovery of antibiotics

In many ways, the invention of antibiotics was the result of chance and coincidence. However, this can be said about many other discoveries.

Alexander Fleming studied bacterial infections. This work became especially relevant during the First World War. The development of military equipment led to the emergence of a larger number of wounded.

An infection occurred in the wounds, and this led to amputations and deaths. It was Fleming who identified the causative agent of infections - streptococcus.

He also proved that traditional medicine antiseptics are not able to destroy a bacterial infection completely.

The unequivocal answer to the question of what year the antibiotic was invented exists. However, this was preceded by 2 important discoveries.

In 1922, Fleming discovered lysozyme - one of the components of our saliva, which has the ability to destroy bacteria. During his research, the scientist added his saliva to the Petri dish, in which bacteria were sown.

In 1928, Fleming planted staphylococcus in Petri dishes and left them for a long time. By chance, the particles of a mold fungus got into the crops.

When, after a time, the scientist returned to work with the sown staph bacteria, he discovered that the mold had grown and destroyed the bacteria.

This effect was not produced by the mold itself, but by the clear liquid produced during its vital activity. This substance is a scientist named after mold fungi (Penicillium) - penicillin.

Next, the scientist continued to study penicillin. He found out that the substance effectively acts on bacteria, which are now called gram-positive. However, he is also able to destroy the pathogen gonorrhea, although he belongs to gram-negative microorganisms.

Research has been going on for many years. But the scientist did not have the necessary knowledge in chemistry to obtain a pure substance. Only an isolated pure substance could be used for medical purposes. Experiments continued until 1940.

This year, scientists have undertaken the study of penicillin scientists Flory and Chain. They were able to isolate the substance and get a drug suitable for starting clinical trials. The first successful results of human treatment were obtained in 1941.

This year is considered the date of appearance of antibiotics.

The history of the discovery of antibiotics was quite long. And only during the Second World War, the possibility of its mass production appeared.

Fleming was a British scientist, but it was impossible to produce medicine in the UK at that time — fighting was going on. Therefore, the first samples of the drug were released in the United States of America.

A part of the medicine was used for the internal needs of the country, and the other part was sent to Europe, to the epicenter of the fighting to save the wounded soldiers.

After the end of the war, in 1945, Fleming and his successors, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, received the Nobel Prize for achievements in medicine and physiology.

As in the case of many other discoveries, to answer the question "who invented the antibiotic" is difficult. This was the result of the joint work of many scientists. Each of them made a necessary contribution to the process of inventing a medicine, without which it is difficult to imagine modern medicine.

The importance of this invention

It is hard to argue that the discovery of penicillin and the invention of antibiotics is one of the most important events of the 20th century. Its mass production has opened a new milestone in the history of medicine. Not so many years ago, ordinary pneumonia threatened to be fatal. After Fleming invented the antibiotic, many diseases ceased to be a death sentence.

Antibiotics and the history of the Second World War are closely related. Thanks to these drugs managed to prevent many deaths of soldiers. After injuries, many of them developed severe infectious diseases that could lead to death or amputation of the limbs. New drugs could significantly accelerate their treatment and minimize human losses.

After the revolution in medicine, some expected that the bacteria could be destroyed completely and permanently.

However, the inventor of modern antibiotics himself was aware of the peculiarities of bacteria - the phenomenal ability to adapt to changing conditions.

Currently, medicine has mechanisms to combat microorganisms, but they also have their own methods of protection against drugs. Therefore, they cannot be completely destroyed (at least for now), moreover, they are constantly changing and new types of bacteria appear.

Problem of resistance

Bacteria are the first living organisms on the planet, and for thousands of years they have developed mechanisms by which they survive. After penicillin was discovered, it became known about the ability of bacteria to adapt to it, to mutate. In this case, the antibiotic becomes useless.

Bacteria multiply quickly enough, and transmit all the genetic information of the next colony. Thus, the next generation of bacteria will have a mechanism of "self-defense" from the drug. For example, the antibiotic methicillin was invented in 1960. The first cases of resistance to it were reported in 1962.

At that time, 2% of all cases of diseases for which methicillin was prescribed could not be treated. By 1995, it had become ineffective in 22% of clinical cases, and after 20 years - the bacteria were resistant in 63% of cases. The first antibiotic was obtained in 1941, and in 1948, resistant bacteria appeared.

Usually drug resistance is first manifested several years after the drug is released to the market. That is why new drugs appear regularly.

In addition to the natural mechanism of "self-defense", bacteria become resistant to drugs due to improper use of antibiotics by the people themselves. The reasons why these drugs are less effective:

  1. Self-prescribing antibiotics. Many do not know the true purpose of these drugs, and take them with a cold or a little malaise. It also happens that the doctor once prescribed one type of medication, and now the patient is taking the same medication during an illness.
  2. Non-compliance with the course of treatment. Often the patient discontinues the drug when he begins to feel better. But for the complete destruction of bacteria you need to take pills during the time specified in the instructions.
  3. antibiotics in food. The discovery of antibiotics has cured many diseases. Now these drugs are widely used by farmers for the treatment of livestock, and the destruction of pests that destroy the crop. Thus, the antibiotic gets to meat and vegetable cultures.

Advantages and disadvantages

One can definitely say that the invention of modern antibiotics was necessary, and it allowed us to save the lives of many people. However, like any invention, these drugs have positive and negative sides.

The positive aspect of the creation of antibiotic drugs:

  • diseases that were previously considered fatal, are fatal many times less
  • when these drugs were invented, the life expectancy of people increased (in some countries and regions by a factor of 2-3),
  • newborns and babies die six times less
  • the mortality of women after childbirth has decreased by 8 times,
  • reduced the number of epidemics, and the number affected by them.

After the 1st antibiotic drug was discovered, the negative side of this discovery became known. At the time of the creation of drugs based on penicillin, there were bacteria that are resistant to it. Therefore, scientists had to create several other types of medicines. Gradually, however, microorganisms developed resistance to the "aggressor."

Because of this, there is a need to create new and new drugs that will be able to destroy mutated pathogens. Thus, annually new types of antibiotics appear, and new types of bacteria that are resistant to them.

Some researchers say that at the moment about one-tenth of infectious disease pathogens are resistant to antibacterial drugs.

What is antibiotics

Since the appearance of the first antibiotic, many decades have passed, but medical workers all over the world, ordinary people, are well aware of this discovery. By themselves, antibiotics are separate pharmacological groups with synthetic components, the purpose of which is to disrupt the integrity of the membranes of pathogenic pathogens, stop their further activity, quietly remove from the body, prevent general intoxication. The first antibiotics and antiseptics appeared in the 40s of the last century, since then their range has increased significantly.

Gene mutations and the problem of bacterial resistance

Pathogenic microorganisms, by their nature, turned out to be so-called “inventors”, since, under the influence of broad-spectrum antibiotic drugs, they are able to gradually mutate, acquiring increased resistance to synthetic substances. The issue of bacterial resistance for modern pharmacology is particularly acute.

World to antibiotics

From the school course of the history of ancient times, we all once learned about the terribly short life expectancy of people. Men and women who have miraculously reached thirty years were considered long-livers, but it would be difficult to call them healthy: by this age the skin was covered with numerous defects, the teeth rotted and fell out, and the internal organs worked hard due to poor diet and hard physical labor.

Infant mortality was rampant, and the death of women due to fever was common. It is enough to look at the biography of famous people of the XVI-XIX centuries to see confirmation of this sad fact: for example, in the family of the great writer and playwright Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol there were 12 children, including himself: 6 girls and 6 boys. Of these, only 4 sisters survived to adulthood, and the rest of Gogol’s brothers and sisters died either immediately after birth or in childhood from illness. And no wonder, because by the time the writer died, the inventor of antibiotics was not even born yet.

However, at all times, people tried to find a cure for contagious diseases, without even realizing their infectious nature and the danger of contact with carriers. And what could be the source of drugs, no matter how the gifts of nature? From the herbs, fruits, seeds, roots and mushrooms, the healers of antiquity tried to empirically try to get medicinal drugs from a variety of diseases - most often unsuccessfully, but sometimes they were lucky. The most effective recipes passed from generation to generation, and the traditional medicine developed. And everything new is, as you know, a well-forgotten old. Therefore, the true inventor of antibiotics probably lived and healed people for many centuries before the appearance of countless capsules with pills on modern pharmacy counters.

Ancient history and the Middle Ages

It is known that about two and a half millennia ago, Chinese monasteries used gruel of fermented soybean flour to treat purulent wounds and cuts in soldiers who were wounded in a sword battle. The meaning of the technique is obvious: the yeast-like microorganisms contained in this improvised “antiseptic” prevented the reproduction of pyogenic bacteria, and thus prevented blood contamination.

Representatives of another wise ancient civilization and the builders of the pyramids, the Egyptians, also had an inventor of antibiotics in their ranks.True, he did not do it for the good of it - it came to someone from the court healers to tie around the ankles of slaves damaged by shackles with bandages with moldy bread. This made it possible to prolong the life of the unfortunate and make them work in the quarries longer.

In medieval Europe, a similar method of treatment of purulent wounds was born: they were treated with cheese whey. The principle of action is the same - yeast against bacteria. Of course, then the doctors did not own any of these two concepts, but this did not prevent them from applying bandages, soaked in serum, on the festering wounds received by the soldiers on the fields of numerous battles between the kingdoms. The person who first came to mind with this method of treatment can also rightly be called the inventor of antibiotics.

New and Newest Time

Just think - only at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when humanity had already stormed the ocean spaces and designed aircraft, people first realized the infectiousness of infections and introduced the term "bacterium" (in 1828 Christian Ehrenberg). Prior to this, no doctor was able to trace the direct link between the contamination of wounds, their suppuration and the death of patients. In the infirmary, people were bandaged out of any available matter and did not change them, seeing no need for that.

And in 1867, the British surgeon D. Lister put an end to this and even found a means to fight purulent infections and postoperative complications. He proposed using carbolic acid for disinfecting wound surfaces, and for a long time this substance was the only hope of salvation for “heavy” surgery patients. Lister - if not the inventor of antibiotics, then the discoverer of sanitation and antiseptics for sure.

The debate in which the scientific discovery was born

The history of the invention of antibiotic from mold fungi began in the 60s of the nineteenth century in Russia. Two scientists, Alexey Polotebnov and Vyacheslav Manassein, argued about the nature of the most ancient trouble - mold, which is very difficult to fight. Polotebnov believed that mold acts as a progenitor of all microbes living on Earth. Manassein strongly disagreed with this point of view - he believed that mold has a unique biological structure and is fundamentally different from other microorganisms.

To reinforce his opinion with facts, Manassein began to study the green mold and soon discovered that no bacteria colonies were observed in the immediate vicinity of its strains. From this, the scientist concluded that mold prevents microbes from multiplying and feeding. He shared the results of observations with Polotebnov, he admitted that he was wrong and took up the invention of an antiseptic emulsion based on mold. The resulting remedy is a former opponent of Manassein, who was able to successfully treat skin infections and non-healing wounds.

The result of a joint research work of two scientists was a scientific article entitled "Pathological significance of mold", which was published in 1872. But, unfortunately, the then international medical community did not pay enough attention to the work of Russian specialists. And they, in turn, did not translate their research into the plane of developing a drug for internal use, and limited themselves to local antiseptic. If it were not for these circumstances, who knows - perhaps the Russian scientist would have become the inventor of antibiotics.

The first antibiotics and antiseptics

By the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of the lack of effectiveness of antiseptics became apparent. The solutions at that time at the disposal of the doctors were unsuitable for the treatment of infections of the internal organs, and during the treatment of wounds they did not penetrate deep enough into the infected tissues. In addition, the effect of antiseptics weakened by the biological fluids of the patient's body and was accompanied by numerous side effects.

The time has come for global change, and scientists from the entire civilized world have begun active research in the field of infectious medicine. Before the official opening of the first antibiotic, 50 years remained ...

Penicillin inventor Alexander Fleming

This name is known from the school bench to any of us, since it is inscribed in "golden letters" in all biology textbooks. We should be grateful to this amazing person - talented, purposeful, persistent and, at the same time, very simple and modest. Alexander Fleming deserves recognition not only as the inventor of antibiotics, but also as a doctor, totally devoted to science and understanding the true purpose of his profession: mercy and selfless help to people.

The boy, who changed the course of history, was born on August 6, 1881 in a large Scottish family on a Lochwild farm. Until the age of twelve, Alexander studied at the school of the city of Darwell, then for two years at Kilmarnock Academy, and then moved to London closer to his older brothers who lived and worked in the capital of Great Britain. There, the future inventor of antibiotics worked as a clerk and studied at the Royal Polytechnic Institute. To turn his gaze towards medicine, he spodvig example of his brother, Thomas, who received the diploma of an ophthalmologist.

Alexander entered the medical school at St. Mary's Hospital, and in 1901 he managed to get a scholarship there, leave his work in the office and concentrate entirely on his scientific development. Fleming began with surgery and pathological anatomy, but soon he came to the conclusion that it would be much more interesting for him to study the nature of diseases and prevent their development than to observe the consequences on the operating table. Alec (as he was called in the family) was extremely attracted to laboratories, microscopes and reagents, so he retrained from a surgeon to a microbiologist.

Professor Almort Wright, who arrived at St. Mary’s Hospital in 1902, had a great influence on the development of Alexander Fleming as the inventor of antibiotics and the savior of millions of human lives. Wright at that time was already an eminent scientist - he developed a vaccine against typhoid fever. On the basis of the hospital, the professor laid out his research and in 1906 created a group of young researchers, which included Alexander Fleming, who had just completed the course of study and received a doctorate degree.

Soon came the big trouble - the First World War. Alec served in the Royal Medical Army of Her Majesty with the rank of captain and in the process studied the effects of shrapnel wounds with explosives. At the end of hostilities, the young specialist focused on finding a cure with which it would be possible to prevent suppuration and alleviate the plight of the wounded soldiers. Throughout his entire life, antibiotics inventor Alexander Fleming worked in the research laboratory at St. Mary's Hospital, where he was elected professor and where he made his main discovery.

The scientist's personal life was quite happy — on December 23, 1915, he married a young colleague Sarah (who was affectionately called Sarin), and soon they had a son, Robert, who later also became a doctor. Sarin said about her husband: "Alec is a great man, just nobody knows about it yet." She died in 1949, and after 4 years, the widowed Fleming married another colleague, a Greek by nationality, Amalia Cotsuri-Vurekas. But the happiness of the spouses did not last long - on March 11, 1955, Sir Alexander Fleming, the inventor of antibiotics, died in the arms of his wife from a heart attack.

It is interesting: During his long and fruitful life (74 years), Fleming made an outstanding Masonic career, was awarded the knighthood, 26 medals, 18 international awards (including Nobel), 25 scientific degrees, 13 government awards and honorary membership in 89 academies of sciences around the world.

On the grave of the famous scientist there is a grateful inscription from all of mankind: “Alexander Fleming here rests - the inventor of penicillin”. His personality most vividly characterizes the fact that Fleming flatly refused to patent his invention. He believed that he did not have the right to profit from the drug trade, on which the lives of people literally depend.

The scientist’s modesty is also said that he was skeptical of his fame, calling it simply “Fleming’s myth” and denied the feats attributed to him: for example, it was rumored that Sir Alexander saved the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II of war. When Churchill fell ill in Carthage in 1943, he was cured by Lord Moran, who used sulfonamides, which Fleming pointed out in response to questions from journalists.

The path to mass production of the first antibiotic

For 10 long years, Fleming struggled to develop the drug, but all the experiments turned out to be unsuccessful - in any foreign environment penicillin was destroyed. In 1939, two English scientists who settled overseas in the United States became interested in his research. These were Professor Howard Walter Florey and his colleague, biochemist Ernst Boris Cheney (of Russian origin). They correctly evaluated the prospects for penicillin and moved to Oxford in order to try to find a stable chemical formula of the drug on the basis of the university laboratory and to realize the dream of the inventor of antibiotics Alexander Fleming.

It took two years of hard work to isolate a pure substance and clothe it in the form of crystalline salt. When the drug was ready for practical use, Florey and Chein invited Fleming himself to Oxford, and together the scientists began the trials. During the year, it was possible to confirm the effectiveness of penicillin treatment of such diseases as sepsis, gangrene, pneumonia, osteomyelitis, gonorrhea, syphilis.

This is interesting: The correct answer to the question of the year in which the antibiotic penicillin was invented was 1941. But the official year of discovery of penicillin, as a chemical, is 1928, when Alexander Fleming discovered and described it.

The main field of testing for the antibiotic was the Second World War. Due to the fierce fighting, it was impossible to start industrial production of penicillin on the British Peninsula, so the first vials of life-saving powder came off the assembly line in the United States in 1943. The US government immediately ordered 120 million units of penicillin for domestic use. From America, the drug was delivered to Europe, and it saved millions of lives. It is hard to even imagine how much the number of victims of this war would have increased if it had not been for Alexander Fleming, the inventor of antibiotics, and his followers, Chein and Flory. Already in the postwar years, it was found that penicillin cures even endocarditis, which until then was a fatal disease in 100% of cases.

This is interesting: In 1945, Alexander Fleming, Ernst Chain and Howard Florey were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for inventing penicillin, the world's first broad-spectrum antibiotic for internal use.

Penicillin in the USSR

Speaking about the role of this antibiotic in the history of the Second World War, not to mention Professor Zinaida Vissarionovna Yermolyeva, who in 1942 collected mold from the walls of the Moscow bomb shelter and was able to isolate penicillin from it. Already in 1944, the drug was tested and launched into industrial production. It was named “crustosin”, since the mold for the antibiotic was Penicillium crustosum mold. During World War II, Soviet penicillin showed itself from the best side and became a real salvation for millions of wounded soldiers. It is noteworthy that crustozin was more concentrated and effective than the drug invented in the UK.

Positive aspect

The era of antibiotics has changed the world beyond recognition:

Life expectancy in some countries has doubled or tripled

Infant mortality decreased by more than 6 times, and maternal - by 8 times,

The course of treatment for most bacterial infections now takes no more than 21 days,

None of the previously deadly infectious diseases is now fatal even by 50%,

Over the past half century, only a few cases of pandemics (large-scale epidemics) have been recorded, with losses estimated at hundreds of people, and not tens of thousands, as before, before the invention of antibiotics.

But can it be said with all this that medicine has defeated the infection? Why they for 80 years of antibiotics have not disappeared from the face of the Earth?

Negative aspect

By the time the inventor of antibiotics Fleming gave hope to mankind in the form of penicillin, science already knew a considerable number of pathogenic and conditionally pathogenic microorganisms. Since it turned out that some of them are resistant to penicillin, scientists have begun to develop other groups of antibiotics - tetracyclines, cephalosporins, macrolides, aminoglycosides, and so on.

There were two ways: either to try to find a remedy for each specific pathogen, or to create a broad-spectrum drugs to be able to treat common infections without recognition, and even cope with diseases of mixed bacterial etiology. Of course, the second way seemed more reasonable to scientists, but it led to an unexpected turn.

Under the influence of antibiotics, bacteria began to mutate - this mechanism is incorporated by nature into any form of life. New colonies inherited genetic information from the dead "ancestors" and developed mechanisms of protection against the bactericidal and bacteriostatic effects of drugs. The treatment of diseases that are well susceptible to antibacterial therapy recently became ineffective. Scientists invented a new drug, and bacteria - a new weapon. With the widespread and free sale of antibiotics, this process has acquired the character of a vicious circle, to which science has not yet been able to break free. We have created thousands of new types of bacteria with our own hands, and we continue to do so.

Conclusions and perspectives

Did the inventor of antibiotics "put a pig on us" by inventing penicillin back in 1928? Of course not. But, as often happens with a formidable weapon that fell into the hands of a person, antibiotics were used incorrectly, which led to a new trouble.

Sir Alexander Fleming clearly voiced the three main principles of the use of antibiotics:

Identification of the pathogen and the appointment of the corresponding drug,

Selection of dosage sufficient for complete and final recovery,

The continuity of treatment and accuracy of treatment.

Unfortunately, people often neglect these simple and reasonable rules: they don’t take tests, they don’t go to the doctor, they buy antibiotics at the pharmacy on their own, take them to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms and leave therapy halfway through. This is the surest way to mutation and acquired resistance - bacteria that are crippled but not finished off with an antibiotic memorize their “offender”, invent another enzyme with which they can dissolve its cell walls and devour it, and pass the weapon on to the next generations. This is how multiresistance is formed - a new misfortune of modern infectiology, which the inventor of antibiotics Fleming foresaw.

May we not be able to influence the policies of pharmaceutical and food corporations, we are fully capable of starting to treat our own health and the health of our children correctly: try to choose safe products, take antibiotics only if necessary and strictly prescribed by a doctor.

About the doctor: From 2010 to 2016practicing physician of the therapeutic hospital of the central medical and sanitary unit No. 21, the city of Elektrostal. Since 2016 he has been working in the diagnostic center №3.

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Watch the video: How Alexander Fleming Accidentally Discovered Penicillin (September 2019).