The door to the age of antibiotics was flung open when Howard Walter Florey and Ernst Boris Chain decided in 1938 to systematically investigate all antibacterial substances produced by microorganisms that were known up to that time. This project, initially planned as basic research, created the conditions that have enabled millions of people to be cured to this day.
The two researchers found penicillin in the first three substances they studied. Florey’s research began with studies of inflammation, capillary blood circulation and lymphocyte function. An important milestone for Florey on the way to antibiotics research was finally his studies on lysozymes, which provided the decisive impetus and starting point for the joint work with Boris Chain and ultimately led to the discovery of the therapeutic value of penicillin.