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. Parker RF, Marsh HC. The action of penicillin on staphylococcus. J Bacteriol 1946;51:181-6. [PubMed]

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Describe how the discovery of vitamins and penicillin helped maintain the well ..
The classic teaching is that beta lactam antibiotics function at the level of the cell wall via binding to penicillin binding proteins (PBPs). Once bound, the beta lactams are able to interfere with the production of specific peptidoglycans critical for cell wall structure. Once these peptides are eliminated the cell wall ruptures and the bacteria dies. Resistance occurs when bacteria either via an innate mutation or via DNA exchange acquire the ability to produce beta lactamase, an enzyme cabable of cleaving the antibiotic rendering it useless. In syphilis the mechanism of action is thought to be the same, but resistance has never developed. This may be a direct consequence of one of the more recently discovered PBPs called Tp47[8]. Tp47 functions as both a PBP and a beta lactamase. However, it may paradoxically be responsible for the persistence of PCN sensitivity in syphilis. The binding of the beta lactam component of PCN to Tp47 results in hydrolysis of the beta-lactam bond of the antibiotic. However, in the process of this reaction several byproducts are created. The thought is that these byproducts have a higher affinity for Tp47 than the beta lactam itself[9]. Thus as a consequence of PCN being broken down, products are released which make it more difficult for the beta-lactamase to bind the antibiotic.

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The Discovery of Penicillin This is the beginning of a new series: Great Scientific Advances
Geison presented several events in which the public and private science of Pasteur were at odds, the first of which was Pasteur’s discovery of chirality. Pasteur made public presentations about his discovery of crystal chirality, and Geison shows that they were highly abbreviated versions that were in part self-serving. Geison’s central figure of Pasteur’s presentation of his discovery is Auguste Laurent. Laurent was a major figure in the early days of crystallography and Pasteur studied under his tutelage. Pasteur changed the subject of his doctoral chemistry thesis at Laurent’s suggestion, which set him on his path of discovery.


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In 1848, Pasteur was working in crystallography, a subdiscipline of geology. During 1848, revolution gripped Paris and Pasteur left his laboratory for a few moments to show some of his patriotism (he must be categorized as a political conservative). If he lived in the USA in the early 21st century, he would have probably been a supporter or perhaps lean even further to the right. In 1848, Pasteur made his first discovery, and it was a worthy one. Solutions of dissolved substances could evidence optical activity, which meant that if polarized light were shined through it, the light would become rotated from its original orientation when it came out the other side. French physicist Jean-Baptiste Biot discovered the phenomenon in 1815. Nobody knew why some substances rotated light. Pasteur discovered why in 1848. He was making crystals of sodium ammonium tartrate, which is not an optically active solution. As the crystals formed in solution, Pasteur noticed that some crystals were mirror images of each other. He plucked them out by using tweezers and separated them into two piles. He then made solutions of them. One solution rotated light to the right, and one to the left. It was a major discovery, and Pasteur immediately rushed out and dragged a physics instructor who was passing by into his laboratory, and explained his discovery to him. Pasteur would later state that the rotation of the light was due to the molecule’s structure. He was correct.

According to the official stories, Pasteur quickly discovered that yeast was alive, and he published his first results in 1857. In his 1857 writings, Pasteur described the yeast and its associated fermentation products as taking “birth spontaneously every time that the conditions are favorable.” While Pasteur theorized that the yeast was alive, he also thought the yeast had spontaneously generated, which reflected his early position. Pasteur’s position was far from original. There was a strong minority position that yeast was alive, and Pasteur’s position was merely a rehash of Cagniard-Latour’s work of a generation earlier. Although Pasteur campaigned heavily to be admitted to the French Academy of Sciences in 1857, he failed. His residency in Lille weighed against him. Paris was the center of French academic life, and Pasteur knew that he would not realize his ambitions in the relative hinterland of Lille. He received a promotion and moved to Paris in 1857. In the classroom, Pasteur was notoriously unpopular with his students and academic colleagues. He was a humorless martinet who ran the classroom as if it were a boot camp.


. Tomasz A. The mechanism of the irreversible antimicrobial effects of penicillin: how the beta-lactam antibiotics kill and lyse bacteria. Ann Rev Microbiol 1979a;33:113-37. []

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A brief summary of Louis Pasteur’s life is in order. Born in 1822 in a French village to a tanner who served in Napoleon’s army, Pasteur came from humble roots. A morally rigid young man, Pasteur did well in school and had artistic talent. He took the academic route, going to school in Paris. He had some major academic failures early in his collegiate career, but through extra effort was able to get into college and eventually earn his doctorate. As with the men who discovered anesthesia, Pasteur was consumed with ambition to become rich and famous. In 1844, Pasteur the chemistry student performed his first experiment: isolating phosphorous from cattle bones. It was successful, and Pasteur advertised his feat by putting a big blue label on the flask that held his result.

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. Tomasz A. Penicillin-binding proteins and the antibacterial effectiveness of the beta-lactam antibiotics. Rev Infect Dis 1986;8(Suppl 3):S260-78. []

The antibiotics in clinical use fall into well-defi

Microscopes made possible the discovery of an amazingly complex microscopic world, and sexual reproduction in the smallest insects. English and French philosophers in the late 1600s rejected Descartes’s notion of the spontaneous emergence of life from laws of motion acting on inanimate matter. Antoine Lavoisier eventually demonstrated in the late 18th century, before his neck met the business end of a guillotine, that water was only nourishment for plants, not their source. Lavoisier was the first to describe plant and animal respiration, and his work with oxygen, respiration, and combustion became the foundation of modern chemistry, and was one of Kuhn’s examples of revolutionary, paradigm-founding work. Religious philosophy was also involved in the spontaneous-generation debate, as life coming from random processes, by mere “chance,” was directly opposed to the day’s theology. In the late 17th century, the pre-existence of souls and the seeds of life were popular ideas. wrote and was concerned with sexual reproduction, but he was rather neutral about the ultimate spontaneity of life. The issue was a chicken-or-egg argument, and the egg position prevailed at times.