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Ampoules of penicillin, 1943.

Jarche, James

Ampoules of penicillin, 1943.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm


Three glass ampoules of penicillin, taken by James Jarche for Illustrated magazine in 1943. Each small glass bottle or ampoule contains a standard dose of penicillin, an orange powder which has been freeze dried. The penicillin is mixed with sterile water before it is injected into a patient. The difficulty in growing and extracting pencillin meant that each ampoule probably cost about £80 at the time. Penicillin is an antibiotic, a chemical effective at very low concentrations which can kill or stop the growth of a disease-causing microbe. Penicillin is produced naturally in moulds of the genus Penicillium, from where the drug gets its name.

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© Daily Herald Archive / National Science & Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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