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December 21, 1946

Current Comment

JAMA. 1946;132(16):994. doi:10.1001/jama.1946.02870510032017

SYNTHESIS OF PENICILLIN  Eleven months ago the first announcement of the probable chemical nature of penicillin, a joint report of the American and British investigators in this field,1 appeared in Science. At this time two possible formulas were presented which differed only in subtle molecular rearrangements. Recently du Vigneaud and his associates2 have succeeded in synthesizing penicillin; they coupled penicillamine, a compound related to the unnatural isomer of the amino acid cysteine, with an oxazolone. It was proved conclusively,j by using many of the newer tools of science, that penicillin was synthesized in these reactions. The actual reactions involved in this synthesis are still too complicated to warrant the definite statement that the synthesis proves the structure of the compound. While the amounts of penicillin synthesized were minute, the great importance of this accomplishment is that new drugs related to penicillin can now be produced. There is no

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