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ALEXANDER FLEMING
(1881-1955)

Famous for the discovery of penicillin, one of the single greatest advances in the history of medicine, Alexander Graham Bell, is one of Scotland’s most celebrated scientists.

The son of an Ayrshire farmer, his career began after a five year spell working as a shipping clerk. Following his graduation from St Mary’s, Paddington, in 1906, he joined the lab of the noted bacteriologist Almroth Wright.

The 1st World War, which interupted his work, also served to highlight, through first hand experience in the field, the fatalities caused by infected wounds.

The discovery of Iysozyme, a natural bodily antibacterial agent, made Fleming determined to formulate a more potent antibacterial medicine safe to human cells.

It was in 1928 that the breakthrough was made. A sample of bacteria at his laboratory had become infected and destroyed by a mould. Fleming identified and named this as Penicillin Notatum - a substance commonly found on stale or rotting food.

The commercial availability of the drug derived from this mould was only made possible by the work of Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, who developed a suitable method of manufacturing over the following 15 years. Florey, Fleming and Chain were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1945.

Fleming, never attempted to patent his own discovery, believing it should be as cheap, plentiful and efficiacious as possible..


 
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