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13th June 2016

Professor Tang discusses penicillin on Radio 4’s In Our Time

Professorial Fellow in Cellular Pathology Professor Christoph Tang discussed penicillin with Melvyn Bragg on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time last week.

Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. It is said he noticed some blue-green penicillium mould on an uncovered petri dish at his hospital laboratory, and that this mould had inhibited bacterial growth around it. After further work, Fleming filtered a broth of the mould and called that penicillin, hoping it would be useful as a disinfectant. Howard Florey and Ernst Chain later shared a Nobel Prize in Medicine with Fleming, for their role in developing a way of mass-producing the life-saving drug.

Evolutionary theory predicted the risk of resistance from the start and, almost from the beginning of this ‘golden age’ of antibacterials, scientists have been looking for ways to extend the lifespan of antibiotics.

Melvyn Bragg discussed penicillin with Professor Tang, Laura Piddock, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Birmingham, and Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College, London.

The programme is available to listen to online here.

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