Letter: In Brief

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Sir: John Davison perpetuates the myth that Alexander Fleming "invented" penicillin ("Are these the century's finest minds?", 24 March). Fleming noted the inhibitory effects of a species of penicillin on a bacterial culture in 1928. After a few more experiments he published his results but failed to arouse interest. He did not isolate or identify the substance. He "discovered" rather than "invented" penicillin. Several years later Howard Florey and Ernst Chain realised the potential of Fleming's discovery and isolated relatively pure penicillin and identified the structure.

ALAN WHITE

Englefield Green, Surrey

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