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Why was penicillin an important discovery?

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Quick Answer

The discovery of penicillin was important because it gave doctors an effective way to treat bacterial illnesses. Before Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin, bacterial infections often caused life-altering effects and death.

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Full Answer

Penicillin has the ability to kill or cease the growth of bacteria by preventing new cell walls from developing. The drug was introduced in the 1940s and brought about a medical revolution. Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin in the 1920s by examining his petri dishes containing staphylococcus. One dish was littered with the bacteria, except for one spot that contained mold. The mold was later identified as penicillin. He continued to perform studies with the mold and found that it did indeed kill certain bacteria. He published his findings in 1929.

Scientists began testing the penicillin mold on lab rats and eventually on human participants. One man contracted a severe infection from a scratch on his face. He was given a penicillin injection and improved. However, the supply ran out, and he died. Other patients were tested with the drug and completely recovered. After World War II, scientists could produce the drug easier, and it was made available to various pharmaceutical companies, and many lives were saved as a result of Alexander Fleming's accidental discovery.

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