Several scientists around the beginning of the 20th Century discovered substances that were toxic to bacteria yet not to the human cell. But it wasn't until Sir Alexander Flemings own discovery in 1928 that everyone took notice. While washing his equipment, Sir Fleming noticed a bit of mold attacking a patch of bacteria. It's frightening to consider how many more people would have died in the 20th Century if Sir Fleming did not have good eyes. Today, some complain that through antibiotics we are slowly creating invincible super-bacteria. It's ironic that many of these critics would be dead or not even existing if it weren't for the technology they criticize.
It was a discovery that would change the course of history. The active ingredient in that mould, which Fleming named penicillin, turned out to be an infection-fighting agent of enormous potency. When it was finally recognized for what it was, the most efficacious life-saving drug in the world, penicillin would alter forever the treatment of bacterial infections. By the middle of the century, Fleming's discovery had spawned a huge pharmaceutical industry, churning out synthetic penicillin that would conquer some of mankind's most ancient scourges, including syphilis, gangrene and tuberculosis.
Antibiotics also known as antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria. The term antibiotic was coined by Selman Waksman in 1942 to describe any substance produced by a microorganism that is antagonistic to the growth of other microorganisms in high dilution. This definition excluded substances that kill bacteria, but are not produced by microorganisms. Many antibacterial compounds are relatively small molecules with a molecular weight of less than 2000 atomic mass units.
Selman Abraham Waksman was a Ukrainian-American biochemist and microbiologist whose research into organic substances largely into organisms that live...