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November 21, 1990

Animal rights vs research? A question of the nation's scientific literacy

JAMA. 1990;264(19):2564-2565. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450190096037

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PENICILLIN, a product of chance, chemistry, and animal research, was first given to an American patient in 1942. Anne Miller lay only hours from death from blood poisoning when she received an intravenous injection of the experimental drug at Connecticut's Yale—New Haven Medical Center.

By chance, in 1928, the spore of a rare airborne fungus, Penicillium notatum, happened to fly through an open window of the London hospital research lab of Alexander Fleming and to land on an agar plate containing a culture of bacteria. The spore sprouted a mold that devoured the bacteria. Through chemistry, Howard Florey and Ernest Chain produced enough of the mold's active ingredient to create a drug.

Then, in 1942, that drug was ready for use. Nazi bombing raids had relocated Fleming's quest from London to America. Through a suspenseful chain of events, Miller's doctors had persuaded US officials to release 5.5 g of the