Follow Us on Twitter

Penicillin: A story of triumph and tragedy

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION linking the triumphant story of penicillin’s introduction and development with the damaging consequences of its misuse, Penicillin: A story of triumph and tragedy, is on display in the Science Museum until September 1, 2007.

Only a relatively short time ago, in the 1950s, antibiotic resistant staphylococci were a very real hazard in hospitals. And only 50 years ago, they were a particular threat during a global ‘flu’ pandemic.

People died – not from the ‘flu’ itself but from complications caused by the staphylococci. It was then that new penicillins were developed, in particular methicillin, to combat the problem.

However, over the years antibiotics have been used unwisely so that today we’re faced with the spread of antibiotic resistant superbugs, such as MRSA. And if this trend is allowed to continue, antibiotics will no longer be of any use. Therefore doctors and patients must be responsible for using it correctly.

The exhibition also features historical artefacts, including a sample of Penicillium mould presented by Alexander Fleming to Douglas Macleod in 1935.

Suggested duration: 15 minutes.

Admission: Free.

For more information visit the Science Museum website.