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      Alexander Fleming
     On a cold and foggy February day in 1940 a patient was lying on a cot in the hospital at Oxford University. He was a big man, still in his prim — only forty-three. But on this particular day he was very sick, indeed his condition was regarded as very grave. The doctors who examined him pronounced him practically hopeless. The man was dying of blood poisoning — a hostile microbe had invaded his blood stream through a tiny cut made during a hurried morning shave.
      As a last resort, the doctors decided to treat him with an entirely new drug. The drug had never yet been  tested on a human being. True, penicillin, as it was called, had saved experimental animals: it had pro­tected mice and rats against infection caused by the same microbe.
     The two doctors who took charge of the treatment were Dr. Florey and Dr. Chain. They had a very limited amount of penicillin, prepared by themselves. With both doubt and hope in their hearts, they set out to treat their first case with the new drug.
     After a few days of treatment, their hopeless patient was much better. Unfortunately, their supply of the drug gave out at this point,  and the illness began to gain ground again. Before they were able to prepare more penicillin, the patient died. The doctors had lost the first round of the fight. But they had lost it only because they did not have enough penicillin. The drug had clearly proved very effective . . .
      The next time the two doctors tried the drug they were completely successful: they cured a young boy who was also considered a hopeless case of blood poisoning.
     Penicillin had been discovered twelve years earlier by Dr. Alexander Fleming, the bacteriologist at St. Mary's Hospital in London. One day Dr. Fleming set aside several slides with microbe cultures in his laboratory and left them there. The summer of that year was very cool and damp, conditions favouring the growth of moulds.
      When Fleming examined the slides a few days later, he found many of them contaminated with moulds. There was nothing very unusual about this, for mould spores are carried everywhere by air currents and grow wherever 'hey can find food. What was unusual was that the mould had destroyed some of the colonies of bacteria. All around the mould the area was clear — the microbes would not grow in the vicinity of the mould.
      When Fleming published his observations in September 1928, his work received very little attention. Scientists, although astonished and intrigued by this discovery, had little confidence in its practical potentialities. The idea of using moulds as therapeutic agents was too revolutionary to appeal to the conser­vative minds of most medical men. Two exceptions were Dr. Florey and Dr. Chain. They continued the work on 'penicillin, subjecting it to all sorts of tests and later, as we know, proving it to be an extremely powerful drug.
     Unfortunately, neither the British Government nor private firms were prepared to undertake the produc­tion of penicillin. Its laboratory production was too expensive. Florey and Chain then went to the United States. The Americans were quick to realize the advantages of the new wonder-drug and in 1942 started its factory production.
     Afterwards Americans often asked Fleming why he had not patented penicillin; indeed, had he done so, he would have been a millionaire. But the scientist always replied to such questions that penicillin should be  available to all people. It should not be a means of enrichment to anyone.
      The first Soviet penicillin was prepared in 1942, when the Americans were only starting work on the production of the drug. It was prepared in our country by a group of scientists headed by Dr. Yermolyeva.
       Scores of other antibiotics have since been prepared in the Soviet Union, many of them even more powerful than their parent drug...







Albert Einstein 

Alexander Fleming

Igor Kurchatov

Poytr Lebedev

Marie Curie

Michael Faraday

Wilhelm Roentgen







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