Alexander Fleming was a Scottish scientist XIX and XX century (born August 6, 1881 and died on March 11, 1955) known for the discovery of the antibacterial properties of penicillin and lysozyme.
He was born into a peasant family in Darvel (Ayrshire), a small town in southwest Scotland. At age 13 he decided to move to London with his brother John, who at that time was studying medicine.
In London, influenced by his relative and thanks to a scholarship, Fleming began studying medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in Paddington. At age 25, before ending his studies, he entered the world of bacteriology working in the lab of immunologist Almroth Wright. From then on he devoted the rest of his life to the study of bacterial infections.
In this field of study, Fleming became famous and recognized worldwide thanks to two extraordinary and semi-accidental discoveries:
• The discovery of lysozyme (1922): studying possible treatments for a type of infection known as gas gangrene, Fleming discovered lysozyme antibacterial action to realize the destruction of bacteria from one of his plates on which had previously sneezed accidentally (bodily mucous continent lysozyme enzyme).
• The discovery of penicillin (1928): His most important discovery came when plates staphylococcus was accidentally infected by the fungus Penicillium chrysogenum. Curiosity and meticulousness Fleming led him to study these samples with mold and discover the antibacterial effect of one component of the fungus: penicillin.
Aware of the global implications of his latest discovery, the following year he published his findings in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology and spent time trying to isolate penicillin fungus. However, the difficulties in obtaining the antibiotic in large quantities and limited distribution of the relevance of their discovery delayed the commercialization of the first antibiotic medicine 12 years, when the German biochemist Ernst Boris Chain and Howard Florey Australian pharmacologist developed a method purification of penicillin that allowed efficient synthesis and worldwide distribution.
The synergy of Fleming, Ernst Boris Chain and Howard Florey won them the Nobel Prize Physiology or Medicine 1945 for the “discovery of penicillin and its curative effect on infectious diseases.”