What Is Penicillin?


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Penicillin is an antibiotic derived from the fungus Penicillium. It can also be created by partially artificial processes. It was British bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming who first discovered the action of natural penicillin in 1928. However, it was developed as a medicine by German-British biochemist Ernst Chain, Australian pathologist Sir Howard Florey and other scientists.
Penicillin kills bacteria and inhibits its growth. It only kills those organisms which are growing and reproducing. Penicillin is used to kill a wide range of disease-bearing micro-organisms. The drug is effective against deadly diseases such as endocarditis, septicaemia, gas gangrene, gonorrhoea, and scarlet fever
Despite the effectiveness of penicillin in curing a wide range of diseases, certain infections could not be cured by the antibiotic. For instance, infections caused by certain strains of staphylococci could not be cured by the antibiotic because the organism produced an enzyme capable of destroying the antibiotic. Besides, enterococci and other bacteria also resisted the action of penicillin. Scientists then developed semisynthetic penicillins which were remarkably effective against staphylococci and inhibited enterococci and many other bacteria. Despite this, bacterial resistance to some penicillins has increased over the years and biologists are looking for alternative therapies.

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