Penicillin in World War II



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Penicillin
1.Penicillin is an antibiotic drug used to treat infection. Sir Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist, discovered it in 1928. However, it was not brought to widespread medical use because there was not a way to produce large amounts of it. Twelve years later, British scientists Howard Florey and Ernest Chain discovered a way to produce a stable preparation of penicillin. In 1945, all three scientists shared the Nobel Peace Prize for their discovery. Penicillin is derived from the mold penicillium notatum. There are two categories of penicillin, biosynthetic and semi-synthetic. Biosynthetic penicillin is harvested directly from the mold. Semi-synthetic penicillin means that the structure of the acid found in the mold has been changed in some way. Some common side affects include allergic reaction and hypersensitivity.

2.The mold that penicillin derives from, penicillium notatum, can be found on old food and fabric. Penicillin inhibits bacterial growth and kills bacteria. Penicillin interferes with the ability to synthesize the cell wall of bacteria to prevent them from growing and dividing.

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3.Penicillin can be altered to cure a wide range of bacteria. The only natural form of penicillin that exists is benzyl penicillin, also known as penicillin G. However, it must enter the human body through an intramuscular injection. Penicillin G is broken down very easily by acid and the hydrochloric acid in the stomach will destroy the penicillin too quickly for it to kill the bacteria if it is swallowed. Most forms of penicillin are given intravenously, but some can be swallowed in pill or liquid form.

4.Penicillin was very effective during World War II. The mass production of penicillin in 1944 was a response to the war. If there were not a war raging in the world, there would have been no rush for the production of penicillin. It is unknown how long it would have taken to develop a method of producing penicillin fast enough if there were no time limit. Penicillin cured many diseases and infections that were previously untreatable, and saved many lives during World War II. Amongst the Allied forces, about 12-15% of lives were saved due to the development of penicillin.

5.The Allied Powers used penicillin to cure their soldiers. The American pharmaceutical company Pfizer produced much of the penicillin used during the war. They produced more than half of the penicillin used by the rest of the Allied Powers for the remainder of the war.

6.Penicillin was very important to the soldiers in World War II. It helped to heal soldiers that were fighting in the war so that they could go back and continue fighting in the war. In addition, the soldiers could return home safely to their families. The use of penicillin during World War II saved many lives.

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