Antibiotics - one of the finest inventions of the XX century in the field of medicine. Modern people do not always realize that, no matter how much they owe it to the therapeutic formulations. Mankind in general very quickly gets used to the amazing achievements of the science, and sometimes need to make some effort to imagine life as it was, for example, before the invention of TV, radio or engine. As quickly came into our lives a huge family of a variety of antibiotics, the first of which was penicillin. Today, it seems surprising that in the 30-ies of XX century, each year tens of thousands of people have died of dysentery that pneumonia in many cases ended in deaths that sepsis was a real scourge of all surgical patients who in a variety of died of blood poisoning that fever is considered dangerous and intractable disease, and pneumonic plague inevitably led to the death of the patient. All these terrible diseases (and many others, especially the incurable, for example, tuberculosis) were defeated by antibiotics.
Even more striking effect of these drugs on military medicine. Hard to believe, but in previous wars, most of the soldiers perished not from bullets and shrapnel, but from purulent infections caused by injury. It is known that in the surrounding area there are a myriad of microscopic organisms, microbes, including many and dangerous pathogens. Under normal conditions, it prevents their our skin penetration body. But during wound dirt fell into open wounds together with millions of putrefying bacteria (cocci). They began to multiply with enormous speed, to penetrate deep into the tissue, and after a few hours have no surgeon could not save man: gnoilas wound, fever, septicemia or gangrene began. The man died not so much on the wound itself, but on wound complications. Medicine is helpless before them. In the best case, the doctor managed to amputate the affected organ, and so stopped the spread of the disease.
To deal with wound complications, we had to learn how to paralyze the germs that cause these complications, learn to disarm caught in the wound cocci. But how to achieve this? It turned out that the fight against the microorganisms can be directly with their help, since some microorganisms throughout his life secrete substances that can destroy other microorganisms. The idea of using microbes in the fight against germs appeared in the XIX century. So, Louis Pasteur discovered that anthrax killed by the action of certain other microbes. But it is clear that the resolution of this issue required a huge work - is not easy to understand the life and relationships of microorganisms, even more difficult to grasp which of them are at enmity with each other and how one wins another microbe. However, it was the most difficult to imagine that a formidable enemy cocci have a long and well-known man, that he had thousands of years of living side by side with him, and kept reminding me of themselves. They turned out to be an ordinary mold - negligible fungus, which in the form of spores are always present in the air and readily grows on the whole old and damp, whether the cellar wall or a piece of bread.
However, on the bactericidal properties of the mold it has been known in the XIX century. In the 60s of the last century between the two Russian doctors - Alexey and Vyacheslav Polotebnovym Manassein - dispute. Polotebnov argued that mold is the ancestor of all the germs, that is, that all the microbes are descended from it. Manassein also argued that this is not true. To substantiate his argument, he began to explore the green mold (Penicillium Latin glaukum). He sowed the mold on the medium, and said in amazement: where grown moldy fungus never develop bacteria. This Manassein concluded that inhibits the growth of mold fungus microorganisms. The same is then observed and Polotebnov: liquid in which the mold appeared, was always clear, therefore, does not contain bacteria. Polotebnov realized that as a researcher, he was wrong in its findings. However, as a doctor, he immediately decided to investigate this unusual property of such readily available substances, such as mold. The attempt was unsuccessful: the ulcer covered with emulsion, which contained a mold fungus, heal quickly. Polotebnov made an interesting experience: he covered the deep skin ulcers of patients with a mixture of mold and bacteria is not observed in them are no complications, in one of his articles in 1872, he recommended the same way to treat wounds and deep abscesses. Unfortunately, experiments Polotebnova not attracted attention, although from posleranevyh complications all surgical clinics then perished multitudes.
Once again, the remarkable properties of the mold was opened after half a century Scot Alexander Fleming. From his youth, Fleming wanted to find a substance that would destroy disease-causing bacteria, and persistently engaged in microbiology. Laboratory Fleming was placed in a small room pathology department of a major London hospitals. In this room it was always stuffy, crowded and disorderly. To escape from the stuffiness, Fleming always keep the window open. Together with another doctor Fleming doing research staphylococci. But, do not finish the job, the doctor left the department. Old cup with crops of colonies of microbes were still on the shelves of the laboratory - cleaning his room zryashnoe Fleming always considered a waste of time. One day, having decided to write an article on staphylococci, Fleming looked into the cup, and found that many of the culture is there to cover the mold. This, however, was not surprising - apparently, mold spores brought into the lab through a window. Surprisingly, it was something else: when Fleming began to explore the culture, the many cups did not have a trace of staphylococci - there was only a mold and transparent, like dew drops. Is usual mold destroyed all the germs? Fleming immediately decided to test his guess and put a little bit of mold in a test tube with nutrient broth. When the fungus has evolved, he settled into the same cup of various bacteria and put it in an oven. Then examined the nutrient medium, Fleming found that between the mold and the colonies of bacteria formed bright spots and clear - like mold hesitate microbes, preventing them to grow around him. Then Fleming decided to do more large-scale experience: fungus transplanted into a large vessel and watched its development. Soon the surface of the vessel was covered with "felt" - overgrown and tangled crowded fungus. "Felt" several times changed its color: at first he was white, then green, then black. Changes color and broth - transparent, he turned to yellow. "Obviously, mold releases into the environment of any substance" - thought Fleming and decided to see if they have harmful bacteria properties. The new experience has shown that yellow liquid destroys the same micro-organisms that destroy the mold itself. Moreover, the fluid has an extremely high activity - Fleming bred her twenty times, and the solution still remains detrimental to pathogenic bacteria.
Fleming realized that is on the verge of an important discovery. He threw all the cases, stop other studies. Mold fungus Penicillium notatum now entirely absorbed his attention. For further experiments, Fleming needed gallons of mold broth - he studied for a day of growth, at what temperature and for how medium action of a mysterious yellow substance would be most effective for killing germs. At the same time it was found out that the mold itself, as well as yellow broth were harmless to animals. Fleming introduced them to the rabbit vein, into the abdominal cavity of white mice, washed broth skin and even burying it in his eyes - no unpleasant phenomena were observed. In vitro reconstituted yellow substance - a product secreted mold - delayed growth of staphylococci, but not interfere with the function of white blood cells. Fleming called this substance penicillin. Since then he is constantly thinking about an important issue: how to identify the existing active substance from the filtered broth mold? Alas, it turned out to be extremely difficult. Meanwhile, it was clear that enter the human blood brown broth, which contained a foreign protein is definitely dangerous. Young employees Fleming, the same as him, the doctors, not chemists have made many attempts to solve this problem. Operating in primitive conditions, they spent a lot of time and energy but achieved nothing. Whenever undertaken after penicillin treatment decomposed and lost medicinal properties. Eventually, Fleming realized that this problem is not him on the shoulder, and that the resolution should be transferable. In February 1929, he made at the London Medical Research Club message found them extraordinarily potent antibacterial. This message does not draw attention to themselves. However, Fleming was a stubborn Scot. He wrote a great article detailing his experiments and placed it in a scientific journal. In all medical congresses and conventions, he somehow made a reminder of his discovery. Gradually penicillin became known not only in England but also in America. Finally, in 1939, two British scientists - Howard Fleury, professor of pathology one of the Oxford Institute and Ernst Chain, a biochemist, who had escaped from German persecution of the Nazis - pay attention to penicillin very close attention.
Cheyne and Fleury were looking for a theme to work together. The challenge isolation of purified penicillin attracted them. At Oxford University he turned strain (culture of microbes isolated from certain sources), sent to Fleming. With him, then they began to experiment. In order to make penicillin drug, it must be attributed to some substance, soluble in water, but in such a way that, being purified, he did not lose its amazing properties. For a long time, this problem seemed unsolvable - penicillin quickly destroyed in an acid medium (which is why, incidentally, it can not be taken orally) and very long maintained in an alkaline, it is easily crossed in the air, but if it is not put on the ice, destroyed and it . Only after many experiments, the liquid containing the selected fungus and aminopenitsillinovuyu acid, able to filter through and difficult to dissolve in a special organic solvent which does not dissolve potassium salts, readily soluble in water. After potassium acetate exposure in the sediment dropped white crystals of potassium salt of penicillin. Having done a lot of manipulation, Cheyne got mucous mass, which he finally managed to turn into a brown powder. The first experiments with it have a stunning effect: even a small pellet of penicillin, diluted at a ratio of one in a million, had a powerful antibacterial properties - placed in this deadly environment cocci were killed in a few minutes. At the same time, the drug injected into a vein, not only the mouse did not kill it, but in general did not produce any effect on the animal.
Bonus Cheyne has joined several other scientists. Action penicillin comprehensively examined for white mice. They were infected with staphylococci and streptococci in doses of more than mortal. Half of them have introduced penicillin, and these mice survived. The rest died in a few hours. Soon it was discovered that penicillin kills not only cocci, but also agents of gangrene. In 1942, penicillin tested on a patient who died from meningitis. Very soon he recovered. The news of this made a big impression. However, to establish the production of a new drug in a belligerent England failed. Fleury went to the US, and here in 1943 in the city of Peoria Dr. Coghill Laboratory first started commercial production of penicillin. In 1945, Fleming, Fleury and Cheney for their outstanding discovery was awarded the Nobel Prize.
In the USSR, penicillin from the mold Penicillium krustozum (the fungus has been taken from the wall of one of Moscow's shelters) received in 1942 a professor Zinaida Yermolyeva. There was a war. Hospitals were overflowing with wounded with purulent lesions caused by staphylococci and streptococci, complicating an already difficult wounds. Treatment has been difficult. Many of the wounded died from purulent infection. In 1944, after much research Yermolyeva went to the front to test the effect of your medication. All the wounded before the operation did Yermolyeva intramuscular injection of penicillin. After that, most fighters cicatrized wound without complications and suppuration, without raising the temperature. Penicillin seemed battered field surgery a miracle. He cured even the most severe cases, already were ill blood poisoning or pneumonia. In the same year the production of penicillin factory was established in the USSR.
In the future, the family of antibiotics began to expand rapidly. Already in 1942 Gause singled gramicidin, and in 1944 an American of Ukrainian origin, Waxman received streptomycin. The era of antibiotics, due to which millions of people have saved lives in the coming years. Curiously, penicillin has remained non-proprietary. Those who opened it and set up, refused to receive a patent - they believed that a substance that can bring a benefit to mankind, should not be a source of income. This is probably the only opening to such an extent to which no one imposes copyright.