# How to make penicillin

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Can somebody tell me how to grow from houshold aparatus penicillin?

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mouldy bread if I rem correctly.

then youde need to isolate the part thats actualy the penecillin and culture that in a suitable medium.

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How do i no which is the penicilin part?

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youde need books with diagrams or the I-net diagrams and a microscope to identify the spores as penecillin, and then be very carefull with its extraction as to not cross contaminate it.

this is a very a crude method, be certain! however you DID state from household kit

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How much magnification

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not a clue there to be honest, but a simple 900X mag wouldnt be a bad start (some more knowledgable folks can tell just by the mold color though).

you really need a book!

personaly, I wouldnt risk doing it, you could accidently culture all manor of nasties and get youself quite ill as a result. lots of study is called for here I recon

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how do u make penicillin

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you Dont, you get it from your doctor!

as I said above, you risk breeding all sorts of potentially lethal pathogens even if you know what youre doing.

so if you have to ask that question, you have no business even Trying to make it!

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Is there any other forms of antibiotics that can be found and made with crude materials in the wild. Penicillin needs a lot of equipment and technology that wouldn't be available in the woods. I was looking into plants that may help with infection but I have very limited sources.

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To be fair the ways described here to find out if it is the Penicillium species aren't very good the easiest way is to just to grow it on a bacterial plate and then on the same plate grow the fungus with penicillinase if the one without it kills the bacteria and the other doesn't you have a fungus making penicillin.

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Penicillium is a genus of mould fungus, and has an enormous number of different species. Most will not produce useful quantities of penicillin. The species currently used by the industry is Penicillium chrysogenum.

You are seriously unlikely to manage to isolate this species in anything other than a very well equipped laboratory. The best way to get hold of some is to buy a freeze dried specimen, and then grow it on culture medium. It can probably be bought by one of your local scientific supply companies, but you will need to phone around. At the same time, buy suitable culture medium. This can be prepared in a kitchen, and sterilised with a pressure cooker, on high for 15 to 20 minutes.

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I guess the question for me is; is there any sort of anti bacterial, or better yet a herbal remedy that can help the body overcome or prevent infection in the wild. Something that could be gathered in the wild and made or something that has these qualities. For instance if I were to get a compound fracture in the wild a way to prevent infection before i dress it? or a deep cut ect.

etc. sorry

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If you are happy to accept a topical rather than systemic treatment, there are lots of options. For example : animals lick wounds - with good reason. Saliva contains antiseptic materials.

A classical treatment that has been shown to work quite well is honey. Soak a bandage in honey and place it over the wound. The high sugar content provides osmotic drying that dehydrates bacteria, and kills them.

Lots of leaves, barks etc contain antiseptic materials that kill bacteria, and lots of 'pre-civilisation' societies have collected these materials and pulped them to make antiseptic material.

None of them will systemically, as an antibiotic can. Thus, the antiseptics will kill bacteria at the surface of a wound, but not deeper. Puncture wounds result in deep infections that cannot be destroyed with any treatment short of antibiotics.

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For a deep puncture wound would searing it with a hot iron to help sterilize it and then use one of the antiseptic materials work? Or lets say if i got a compound fracture amputation would probably be the only thing that could save me besides antibiotics, or is there other means?

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To insanerob

In the days before antibiotics, deep puncture wounds were common causes of death. They led to deep infections, and there was no way to fight them. In a limb, sometimes amputation worked, but the operation often simply became the cause of death! Any puncture wound through the peritoneum was a 100% death sentence. In agony!

Compound fractures did not work that way, though they frequently led to long term deformity and extreme pain. Only if the broken bone punctured the skin would infection get in. Under normal circumstances the interior of the human body, excluding air passages and digestive system, is sterile. No bacteria at all. Thus, damage in that sterile environment could heal without infectious complication.

Fractures in the old days were set as best they could - manipulating them back into position. Then they were strapped and splinted to hold them in place to permit healing. Rather too often they were not set right, and healing was slow, and painful, and resulted in a deformed limb. If you want to know how to carry out this procedure, there are lots of first aid courses that cover the method, if briefly. I am sure there will be more advanced courses as well.

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SkepticLance, you suggested that someone should buy a sample from scientific supply company if they were interested in experimenting with this. I found your answer via google, and i registered just to reply.

I'm curious about several things. First, would such a sample be one of the industrial high-yielding strains, or do drug companies keep those for themselves? Second, what kind of setup would it require for a person to be able to produce significant amounts, say, enough to produce a 3 week course of antibiotics for a single person? Finally, would it even be safe to do so? I can imagine that with practice, even a layman might manage to get good at growing mold (some of us have quite a bit of accidental practice *chuckle*). I can even see that with practice and a decent microscope, a layman might be able to detect contamination from other molds, and discard any such. But doesn't this mold produce other compounds that would be unsafe, that are filtered out somehow?

Granted, in any normal situation where professionally manufactured antibiotics are available, I'd choose those over anything "homemade" without hesitation. But mostly as an intellectual puzzle, I am curious about what would be possible/plausible if such were ever unavailable. The shelf life of many of these medicines is rather short.

PS Would the freeze dried specimen last long? Is that something that could be chucked into a cold freezer as insurance against doomsday?

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Hello Nicks.

I do not think I can answer all your queries. Certainly, the highest yielding strains of Penicillium will be restricted to the drug companies. Unless you know someone who is prepared to break all the rules, you are not going to lay your hands on any of those.

However, the first Penicillin was made from 'natural' strains of Penicillium. As long as you do not insist of high purity drug, a crude material could be prepared from 'natural' mould.

Safety? I would not use such a preparation as long as a modern source was available. Only in extreme circumstances, such as after a nuclear war and collapse of civilisation would I even start experimenting.

Freeze dried speciments can survive many years without refrigeration. I buy a few occasionally from a local source, and they come in glass vials that have to be broken to access the sample. I then have to grow it on suitable culture medium to get an actual mould sample.

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You answered most of them well enough.

http://www.carolina.com/product/living+organisms/fungi/penicillium+camemberti,+living,+plate.do

I don't know if $14 is a good "nuclear war, collapse of civilization" insurance price. But it's cheap enough that someone could tinker with it. I also don't think someone like me could really do much with it though. I'm a highschool flunky, and I know just enough to know some (not even all) of the things I don't know that would be needed. I think it's a bit more than having good sterile technique. Hell, to harvest the penicillin itself is almost an engineering sort of thing. I would love to discuss it further though, if you're interested in doing so. If you aren't, I understand, this stuff is probably pretty boring for someone who does this for a living. #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites To Nicks If you can grow a pure culture of Penicillium chrysogenum in sufficient quantity, and I mean a bath full of the stuff, you can prepare a crude solution that might cure an infection. Once you have sufficient mass of the mould, you take it from the culture, and grind it and filter it to remove the trash. The sick person who drinks the resulting disgusting brew may get enough penicillin to save his/her life. No guarantees here, and you would need to be fairly desperate. Personally, I would rather go to my doctor and get a prescription for the good stuff! #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Willing to speculate on how much you'd have to try to culture? The industrial makers use vats that are hundreds or thousands of gallons... but surely that is for many, many doses worth. Would something in the 10-50 gallon range be adequate for a few doses/courses worth? How much would this depend on the yield of your strain of the mold? Some things I read suggest that it's not as important as ensuring that the culture is kept clean of bacteria, which can produce enzymes that destroy the penicillin. That would imply that good sterile techniques are more important than just about any other factor. They also seem to use centrifuges to separate the mold itself from the liquid. Now, those aren't cheap, but someone with some mechanical engineering skill could manage something like it. (There are centrifuges on ebay in the sub-$400 range, but these seem suited only for a dozen test tubes at a time, inadequate if you're doing a batch of 50 gallons.) Filtering the liquid afterward would remove any particulates. Still, aren't there other substances in it that you'd want to remove?

And if a person were inclined to test the efficacy of the resulting anti-biotic, what's required there? Do you need or would you want to test it on animals, lab mice or the like? Or would a few cultures of staph in a petri dish be enough for this?

And, should our hypothetical doomsday occur, would you immediately want to break out the Penicillium chrysogenum and start culturing it continuously, so that you had enough practice to get it right when it counts? You can't wait until someone has the infection that requires it, I think, because we're talking what, 2 weeks or more from start to finish, even if you're quick with practice.

For that matter, in the years between doomsday and actual need, can you stockpile the output of your practice (assuming it meets whatever quality standards you have)? Will it store under refrigeration?

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To Nicks

I have been more or less addressing the original question, which relates to making penicillin in the kitchen. On this basis, it is not possible to make an equivalent of pharmaceutically pure product.

Instead, the best we could do is the equivalent of herbal remedies in that it will have massively variable active ingredient, massively variable efficacy, massively variable levels of impurities, and a final result on the sick person that has to be described as massively variable.

That is the sad reality of operating when good science and precise technology are not available.

In our doomsday scenario, sterility is still possible. Relatively crude apparatus can be used to build a large equivalent of an autoclave (pressure cooker). The culture medium would have to be something like congealed soup, since more sophisticated materials would not be available. However, mould should grow perfectly well on such a material.

Most moulds are not actually toxic, meaning that crude filtering would be enough, and any impurities in the filtrate would not harm the patient. Probably taste awful, though!

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I really don't know... if I was going to the trouble of preparing for some Mad-Max-esque apocalypse, to the point that I'm squirreling away penicillin mold cultures, I'd probably go all the way and get a proper autoclave.

Though, the rest of it isn't all that clear to me. Just what sort of vat would a person want? It'd have to be fairly big, but somehow sterilizable. Centrifuges? Filters? What do you do with the liquid, is there any way to turn it into tablets of some kind, or is it liquid only? How would you store it, for how long? I need to do more research.

I'd also be interested in knowing whether Penicillium chrysogenum is the only one generally available to the public. Wikipedia suggests that not all antibiotics are synthesized chemically, but that some besides the old standby are cultured from either molds or bacteria. Would you have to bribe someone \$10,000 at Eli Lily to get ahold of those?

Would it even make sense to split your efforts on trying for two or more different antibiotics?

For that matter, what other medicines besides antibiotics are even possible (from a biological standpoint, anything synthesized and not cultured might as well be a rocketship, for all that you'd ever be able to produce it) ?

Tamiflu and relenza (flu antivirals) are out. Both chemical. Insulin maybe? Supposedly that's just a yeast culture. A few medicines on the WHO's list of essential medicines are plant based, and might be doable, but how much use would a person have for atropine... expecting any nerve gas attacks? Things like anaesthetics could be useful, but you'd still have to find a proper surgeon for them to be so. (This may be arrogance) but I think that I could probably identify the need to use antibiotics and use them properly if forced to, but the rest excepting insulin would only do any good for proper doctors.

Kinda depressing. Hope civilization doesn't go away any time soon.

Another question...

I spent a half hour screwing around looking for insulin cultures, and I found this. However, I am a layman and it's unclear if this is the culture from which to produce insulin, or just insulin itself.

http://www.invitrogen.com/site/us/en/home/Products-and-Services/Applications/BioProduction/BP-Misc/Recombinant-Human-Insulin-Reagent.html

Willing to confirm it for a moron? Also, any idea if a layman could just place an order (assuming it is the culture), or would something like that require academic/scientific credentials? Gah. On closer examination, wondering if this is just the nutrient stuff you feed the little yeasties...

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To Nicks

The web site you quoted is about a form of insulin which they are selling, called recombinant.

I will try to explain.

The original insulin was pig insulin. At meat works, when pigs were cut up, the pancreas of each pig was set aside to permit the insulin to be extracted. It worked, and helped diabetics, but had side effects. Some side effects were serious, and long term diabetics injecting pig insulin would often go blind, or have problems leading to limb amputation etc. Not nice!

It has long been known that human insulin would be better, but no-one was prepared to cut up thousands of people to extract their pancreas! The breakthrough was the isolation of the human gene that makes insulin. This was inserted into a bacterium, and that bacterium was cultured, and the insulin it made extracted, purified, and placed in vials for injection.

This was also a much cheaper way to get insulin, and diabetics have benefited from the much lower rate of side effects ever since.

To do this post-holocaust would require getting hold of some of these genetically modified bacteria, which I suspect would not be easy.

In fact, given another 50 years or so, a great many drugs will be made in a similar way. Post-holocaust, you could make them if you managed to salvage some of the appropriate GM organisms.

Again, assuming it is post-holocaust, you are not going to be able to produce purified pharmaceutical grade drugs, even with the right bacteria or moulds. Something like my suggested Penicillium soup would be the only way to go.

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I really do have some idea how insulin is manufactured... I believe they started using the genetically modified yeast to do this as early as 1978. Just thought I managed to stumble upon a source for the culture itself. Not familiar with the jargon, so the listing was difficult to understand.

As for pharmaceutical grade drugs, I'm not suggesting this is possible. However, there must exist an entire spectrum between this and the crude "soup" you speak of. For instance, your profile says that you're an industrial microbiologist. I would expect that even given generally the same tools, you would be able to produce a better grade of medicine than I. Much of what would be required (though not all) must be skill. In fact, I expect that if you were to find the rare person who runs the penicillium vats at a pharm. company, he'd do better yet than even you would (assuming this isn't what you do yourself).

For instance, it would seem to me that one could test the efficacy of the antibiotic. From what I've been able to glean via google, this is generally a test against some reference strain of bacteria (staph?). The details were unclear, of course... were they merely measuring the diameter of the kill zone caused by the penicillin against some standard? Were they putting it under a microscope and counting surviving bacteria within a square millimeter? I couldn't tell from the terse description. But whatever the details, this seems possible.

Hell, even if that's not the case, then how else would someone test it? I honestly can't tell you the difference between a mass spectrometer and a gas chromatograph (in fact, one seems more like an astronomy tool, or so my fuzzy suspicion is hinting), they're just words to me. But if indeed some piece of equipment like this is needed to test it, I don't see why this would be an obstacle. One would only need the electricity to run it... something that's implied by the whole premise. Without juice, will you be able to do the temperature control you need? The aeration of the vat?

I know nothing of lab techniques. Didn't go to college, highschool was some dumb smalltown. But if I had to make a totally uninformed guess, I'd be more worried about the consumables a lab uses. Isn't agar made from seaweed from India? Wouldn't be much of that around in the irradiated wastelands. I do not know if there would be a suitable substitute (animal gelatin, perhaps?). And what might you need for chemicals? Chlorine bleach, if it is used, would be all but impossible, once you're no longer able to scavenge more.

I do not know that I could do any of this, or that I'd even want to try. But, at least some of the equipment are things that I would want to own... I've been interested in growing culinary mushrooms for awhile now. So, among other things, I'd have an excuse to own an autoclave, if only they weren't so damn expensive.

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The original insulin was pig insulin. At meat works, when pigs were cut up, the pancreas of each pig was set aside to permit the insulin to be extracted. It worked, and helped diabetics, but had side effects. Some side effects were serious, and long term diabetics injecting pig insulin would often go blind, or have problems leading to limb amputation etc. Not nice!

This was not a direct result of the insulin, though. While I agree that the pig insulin was (overall) not as effective at controlling blood glucose as human levels were, the bigger reason for the complicatoins you cite is that the blood glucose testing technology did not exist at that time for use in the general population.

Regardless of the type of insulin being used, it must be controlled based on data with the body's glucose levels. If glucose is high, more insulin is needed. If glucose levels are low, less insulin is needed. The type of insulin is far less relevant than the amount of insulin needed.

The blindness and amputations you cite are more related to the lack of balance and control of blood glucose levels than it is to the type of insulin injected. Consistently high blood glucose levels, as well as frequent/vast fluctuations result in the build of of ketones (whenever possible, blood glucose levels should remain within a pretty tight range of roughly 80 to 120 mg/dl), and the diabetic who runs high and fluctuating blood glucose levels experiences ketoacidosis, and it is THAT which leads to vascular issues in the retina (blindness from diabetic retinopathy) and issues with dead limbs and nerves in the legs (diabetic neuropathy).