Alexander Flemming

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Alexander Fleming was a Scottish bioligist and Nobel prize winner, best known for his discovery of the antibiotic Penicillin. He was born on the 6th of August 1881 in Lochfield, and died on the 11th of March 1955 in London.

Fleming accidentaly discovered penicillin whilst studying influenza. He noticed on some of his petri dishes, in which he has been growing a culture of Staphylococcus aureus, a mould which was later identified as Penicillium notatum. Around this mold grew no bacteria. He studied this further and found the reason for this was the mould produced Penicillium notatum which killed the bacteria that tried to grow on the dish. He named the active ingredient Penicillin. He said "When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn't plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world's first antibiotic, or bacteria killer," and later went on to say "But I suppose that was exactly what I did.". Fleming originally thought penicillin to be an enzyme, but it was infact the worlds first antibiotic [1].

In November 1921, Fleming discovered lysozyme. Whilst nursing a cold, he dropped a few specks of mucus on a culture of bacteria to analyse the results, thinking his mucus may hold some antibacterial properties. After a few weeks he had discovered that the bacteria had been destroyed [2].

However it was not Fleming who eventually turned his discovery into the antibiotic drug precribed today. Australian scientists Howard Florey and Ernst Chain are credited for deverloping the substance that Fleming discoveed so that it could be used as a drug [3].


  3. BBC History, Alexander Fleming, available at (28/11/13)

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