Medicine through time

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Florey and Chain, the development of Penicillin

Florey and Chain were scientists. They stumbled across Fleming's research papers and were intrigued by his findings. They were sure that, if Fleming was right, this discovery could save a lot of lives, prevent pain and make it much easier to fight infectious diseases and prevent other infections.

Florey and Chain developed a system of growing penicillin: which was complicated initially, and tested its effectiveness on mice. The tests were successful and the two men became convinced that the drug would cure many people who would otherwise die.

Florey and Chain were unable to expand on the development of the drug, as mass production was not financially feasible at the time. The penicillin drug became widely available following the United States introduction into the Second World War during 1941. Once involved in the conflict, the Americans were easily persuaded to develop and produce the drug for the benefit of Allied Servicemen. The experimentation and development of the research previously conducted by Fleming produced astounding results. Florey and Chain had discovered a drug that combated the spread of infection, would allow sick and wounded men a chance of recovering and gave the medical profession a drug that kept the inside of the body as clean as the tools that were now being treated with antiseptics.

Florey and Chain, along with Alexander Fleming each received the Nobel Prize for the development of the penicillin drug in 1945

The fight against infectious disease: pages within this unit

What is an Infectious Disease? A Glossary of Infectious Diseases, Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, Vaccination, The Development of Drugs, Paul Ehrlich, Gerhard Domagk, Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, The importance of Penicillin, Factors affecting the development of drugs and treatments.

Activities within the Unit

Glossary vocabulary test This activity checks your knowledge of infectious disease
Drag and Drop game Do you know who developed each form of medicine?
Breakthrough against Infectious Disease Use the information in this unit to answer a detailed question, then see how it compares with a suggested response. Ideal revision tool.

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