Fleming's penicillin mould, 1935.

Image number: 10326668

Fleming's penicillin mould, 1935.

This sample marks penicillin's transition from an interesting phenomenon to a potential drug. In 1928 Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) discovered that a strain of Penicillium mould exuded a substance that killed certain bacteria. Following the German firm IG Farben's announcement of the first general purpose bacteria-killing drug Prontosil, Fleming now saw his 'penicillin', as he called it, as a possible medicine and gave this sample of a producing mould to a colleague at St Mary's Hospital in London. Penicillin was eventually isolated in 1940, and from 1942 became an important drug.

Image number:
10326668
Credit:
Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
Date taken:
30 October 2003 08:19
Image rights:
Science Museum