The Role of Chemistry in History

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Penicillin and Bacteria

March 26th, 2008 · 2 Comments ·



Introduction| Irish Luck|A Brief History of Penicillin|

Penicillin and Bacteria| Penicillin Affects History: Thanks to Penicillin, He will Come Home!!|

History Affects Penicillin:|References|


It is incorrect to say that all kinds of bacteria are dangerous to people. Some bacteria play an essential role in keeping people healthy. According to the office of technology assessment of the U.S. congress (1995), “more than one thousand different species of bacteria normally live benignly in and on the human body.” Some bacteria that live in the human body provide a protection to the body against the bacteria that cause disease. For example, intestinal bacteria account for about thirty percent of the bulk of human faces, generate essential vitamins that are absorbed by the body and provide a barrier against other kinds of bacteria becoming established in the intestine. Accordingly, ” a person can ingest a small numbers of pathogenic salmonella bacteria but not get sick because the salmonella is prevented from growing to large numbers by the presence of commensal bacteria in the intestine” (U.S. Congress, office of technology assessment, 1995, p. 35). Even though human body relies to a great extent on bacteria for health, bacteria are far better known as causes for disease. In 1830, infectious diseases caused by bacteria and other microorganisms were a major cause of death, and most shockingly, only fifty percent of the population lived past the age of twenty five (Schlessinger, 1993, p. 90). The bacterial cell resembles to an extent an animal cell. They both have nearly similar cellular structures. Penicillin interacts with the wall of the bacteria cell with the presence of a certain enzyme. Thus, penicillin destroys the bacteria cell and prevents it from spreading in the body. Animal cells do not have walls, they rather have cell membrane. Penicillin does not interact with the cell membrane that is why penicillin does not have a destructive effect on our cells (Le Couteur and Burrenson, 2003, p. 196-7).

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