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Penicillin was the first antibiotic to be discovered. Is is an irreversible inhibitor. It permanently inactivates the key enzymes in bacterial cell walls[1]. This is acheived by covalently bonding with a serine residue in glycopeptide transpetidase. If bacteria can no longer sythesise cell walls, they are prevented from growing and dividing, therefore killing the infection. Our cells do not have a cell wall so we are not harmed by Penicillin[2] .

It was in 1928 that Alexander Flemming first noted the effect of penicillium on the growth of staphyloccoci; yet it was not until 1941 that it was first used for treatment against bacterial infection.


  1. Berg JM, Tymoczko JL and Stryer L, 2007, Biochemistry 6th edition, NY, W. H Freeman and Company, page 109
  2. Hardin J., Bertoni G., Kleinsmith L., 2011 Beckers World Of The Cell. 8th Edition, San Fransisco: Pearson Education, page 145
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