History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

Former Display Label: 'Penicillin samples'

An early specimen of penicillin, dated 22 March 1941 [1]. About 150 flask cultures like [4] were needed to produce this amount of penicillin. Early problems with contamination were solved by using chromatography to produce purer samples [2].

The first patients to be treated were at Oxford's Radcliffe Infirmary. Almost miraculous recoveries from apparently fatal infections demonstrated the therapeutic value of the antibiotic. So precious were early stocks of penicillin that to avoid wastage it was recovered from patients' urine [3].

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