Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why stop at THREE mold samples...

...when  four would feel oh so good?

In 1970,Lennard Bickel, using information from Gladys Hobby, says that Martin Henry Dawson and Karl Meyer used a sample of Alexander Fleming's penicillin-producing strain received from Roger Reid in Baltimore to deliver History's first jab of antibiotics October 16 1940, before a sample of  Ernest Chain's strain of penicillin-producing mold arrived from England via the wartime postal service.

Chain's sample - if it even was penicillium notatum - turned red and gave off no penicillin.

This story was repeated by Hobby in her 1985 definitive book on the wartime development of penicillin ---- and by most penicillin authors ever since.

Reid had originally got his penicillin strain in November 1930 from Charles Thom, the world expert on penicillium strains.

Who had gotten his sample from Harold Raistrick who got his from Fleming who got it as a contaminant in the air drifting upwards from the lab of LaTouche who scrapped it off a basement wall of somebody very rich in Belgravia.

(Finally !

The idle rich do something useful.....)

On July 9th 1941, Howard Florey visited Charles Thom who says that HM Dawson ( ie MH Dawson) contacted him directly to get a sample of Fleming's strain, after Chain's strains arrived in late October 1941.

So Dawson contacted at least three people that Fall of 1940 for a good penicillin-producung strain of the mold : Chain, Reid, Thom.

Why not then Alexander Fleming ???

Why not go to the Source, the Mother Load ?

This might account for Fleming's boss (Dr Wright) knowing all about penicillin-making at New York's Columbia University in March 1941, as referenced in Dr John Hedley-Whyte's account.

Dawson had meet Fleming at least twice, for sure --  in 1936 and 1939 when both were high poo-pahs in International Microbiology Congresses.

Anyone got any opinions on this ??

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