MAR 09, 2019 12:10 PM PST

How Penicillin Works

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

In 1928, Alexander Fleming found a contaminated Petri dish. Staphylococcus bacteria had been growing on the dish, and the lid had been left off. A mold called Penicillium notatum had also started growing on the dish; around it was a clear ring where no bacteria could grow. Thus began humanity's use of antibiotics.

There are now several drugs in penicillin's class. They work by disrupting the integrity of the bacterial cell wall, which is required for the bacterium to live. Molecules called peptidoglycans are an integral part of that wall, and penicillin stops peptidoglycans from linking together. Learn more about penicillins from the video.

Source: American Chemical Society

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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