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June 9, 1945

THE DISCOVERY OF ANTIBIOTICS IN GENERAL AND PENICILLIN IN PARTICULAR

JAMA. 1945;128(6):461-462. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860230065025

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Abstract

To the Editor:—  Two main stages characterize the development of penicillin studies: (1) the discovery of the antagonism between certain micro-organisms including molds and (2) the sequence of attempts to concentrate and isolate antibiotics. During the first stage, observations were accumulated on the bacteriostatic, bactericidal and lytic effects of various molds. The discovery of the antibiotic action of molds on bacteria was by no means necessarily linked to observations on penicillin alone. True, Fleming showed that within the group of Penicillium the notatum strain singularizes itself with regard to the secretion of penicillin. However,Fleming's casual observation in 1929, which happened to deal with the particular strain of Penicillium notatum, did not represent the beginning of the aforementioned period. Several years before him, in 1924 and 1925, Gratia described at length very closely related phenomena regarding the lytic effect determined by the action of molds on bacteria. He was handling at

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