A potent substance that could kill bacteria was isolated from a naturally occurring mould (Penicillium notatum) by the Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming in 1928.
Penicillin, a drug based on this natural substance, was created during a massive wartime project in 1943; it dramatically reduced infection and amputation among injured soldiers of the American and British armies throughout World War II. After 1945, pennicilin was widespread all over the world, bringing a brand new era to medicine.
Enabling its synthesis, the chemical structure of penicillin was determined by the British researcher, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin in the forties. By 1957, several pharmaceutical companies synthesized and commercially produced this drug.