The Search for Antibiotics
Sir Alexander Fleming 1881-1955
It was a sad fact that infection was one of the biggest killers of surgical patients. Antibiotics were not yet discovered during the First World War, however the condition that is the cause of infection was starting to be fully understood. Antibiotic gets its name from antibiosis which is effectively when one life destroys the life of another, as to preserve its own life.
During WW1 a Scottish doctor called Alexander Fleming was working at St. Mary's Hospital London. He had previously been the one to point out that the Iodine that the soldiers carried on the front to apply to wounds, was too strong and caused more harm than good.
Fleming was to go on with his research and eventually discover penicillin in 1928, it has to be said, by accident, which was eventually put together as a suitable antibiotic in 1941 when Dr. Howard Florey,(top Right) Ernst Boris Chain (Bottom Right)and and Andrew J. Moyer managed to produce a suitable substance.
This wonder drug is one of the main reasons why surgery has progressed over the last 60 years, without it very few of the major orthopaedic, vascular and plastic surgical procedures would be attempted. Sir Alexander Fleming, Ernst Boris Chain, Sir Howard Walter Florey were later in 1945 to receive the Nobel Prize for medicine.