Most people know the penicillin origin story: In 1928, Alexander Fleming was growing bacteria in Petri dishes in his lab and noticed that one had started growing mold. That mold had cleared a spot in the bacteria, suggesting that it might have antibacterial properties. Fleming named the mold "penicillin," and it became the world's first antibiotic, curing thousands of previously untreatable infections and spawning a new era of human health. That's the story, anyway. But while the first part is true, the facts get hazy as the story goes on. In fact, Fleming never even tested his mold on living subjects — and it was only after another scientist's rediscovery of his paper nearly 10 years later that penicillin's potential was truly fulfilled.
A Slow Start
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Written by Ashley Hamer August 2, 2019
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