“The Discovery of Hope”
History beholds many astounding discoveries that have helped human beings evolve and advance into the modern world that we live in today. Can you imagine living in the past? The world was full of unbeatable viruses and diseases.
The History of Sir Alexander Fleming
People used to live up to a maximum of fifty years, and our lives were behind in medical advances. Did you know that a single discovery caused a leap in the field of pharmacology and changed all that?
In 1928, Alexander Fleming, a Scottish researcher, left his lab unattained during his experimentation on the influenza virus and went for a two-week vacation. When he came back from his vacation, he discovered a type of mold that had grown over the staphylococcus, a type of bacteria that causes a multitude of disease, culture plate and prevented it from growing. That type of mold was later defined as Penicillin which is a mold used to create one of the most powerful antibiotics on Earth. Fleming said in one of many published reports “One sometimes finds what one is not looking for. When I woke up just after dawn on Sept. 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.” A lab accident has shaken the world of medicine and changed everything overnight, but don’t you want to know more about the person who made such a discovery?
Sir Alexander Fleming was born in the 6th of August, 1881, Lochfield Farm, Darvel, Ayrshire, Scotland. He is a Scottish bacteriologist, best known for his discover of penicillin. His work on wound infection and lysozyme were some of the most significant works done in the history of bacteriology. In 1945, he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of penicillin and creation of the first antibiotic. He died at the age of seventy-four after a long life of revolutionizing modern medicine.
Education and Early Career
Fleming was the seventh of eight children of a Scottish farmer. Living in southwestern Scotland nurtured his capacities for observation and his appreciation of the natural world. He began his elementary schooling at Loudoun Moor and then moved on to a larger school at Darvel before enrolling in Kilmarnock Academy in 1894. In 1895 he moved to London to live with his elder brother Thomas, who worked as an oculist, and completed his basic education at Regent Street Polytechnic. He began his medical studies at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in 1901, funded by a scholarship and a legacy from his uncle. There he won the 1908 gold medal as top medical student at the University of London. At first, he planned to become a surgeon, but a temporary position in the laboratories of the Inoculation Department at St. Mary’s Hospital convinced him that his future lay in the new field of bacteriology. There he came under the influence of bacteriologist and immunologist Sir Almroth Edward Wright, whose ideas of vaccine therapy seemed to offer a revolutionary direction in medical treatment.
In 1915, he married Sarah Marion McElroy, an Irish nurse. His son, Robert, followed his father into medicine becoming a general medical practitioner. Fleming was one of the first doctors in Britain to administer arsphenamine, a drug effective against syphilis that was discovered by German scientist Paul Ehrlich in 1910. During World War I, Fleming had a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps and worked as a bacteriologist studying wound infections in a laboratory that Wright had set up in a military hospital housed in a casino in Boulogne, France. There he demonstrated that the use of strong antiseptics on wounds did more harm than good and recommended that the wounds simply be kept clean with a mild saline solution. Fleming returned to St. Mary’s after the war and was promoted to assistant director of the Inoculation Department.
In November 1921 Fleming discovered lysozyme, an enzyme present in body fluids such as saliva and tears that has a mild antiseptic effect. That was the first of his major discoveries. It came about when he had a cold and a drop of his nasal mucus fell onto a culture plate of bacteria. Realizing that his mucus might have an effect on bacterial growth, he mixed the mucus into the culture and a few weeks later saw signs of the bacteria’s having been dissolved. Fleming’s study of lysozyme, which he considered his best work as a scientist, was a significant contribution to the understanding of how the body fights infection. Unfortunately, lysozyme had no effect on the most-pathogenic bacteria. Years after, In 1946, he succeeded Wright as principal of the department, which was renamed the Wright-Fleming Institute.
Discovery of Penicillin