About 1.5 million people nowadays die every year from tuberculosis in the world, but before the discovery of streptomycin by Selman Waksman in 1943, this toll was several dozen times higher.
Streptomycin was the first antibiotic effective for treatment of tuberculosis, and, unlike penicillin discovered by Alexander Fleming by accident, Waksman and his students had to explore tons of different soils in different parts of the world for many years to isolate streptomycin.
Still in his youth, Waksman became interested in the antagonistic properties of microorganisms that live in the soil, and when in 1932 the American National Tuberculosis Association asked him to search for effective microorganisms in the soil that destroy the tubercle bacillus, the research process received a clearer direction.
Waksman found such microorganisms. Streptomycin discovered by him became an effective antibiotic for the treatment of not only tuberculosis, but also leprosy – diseases that have plagued people for thousands of years, and against which they had been previously powerless.
For the discovery of streptomycin, Waksman is still called one of the main benefactors of the world, which he provided with not only a powerful antidote, but also coined the very term antibiotic.