Vincenzo Tiberio: the First in Vivo Experimental Antibiotic Therapy

Marcella Tamburello, Giovanni Villone


This paper describes the first in vivo experimental antibiotic therapy in the history of Medicine. In 1895, in Arzano (Naples, Italy), the physician and scientist Vincenzo Tiberio discovered the bactericidal power of the molds. Tiberio analyzed three molds (i.e., Aspergillus flavescens, Penicillium glaucum, Mucor mucedo) in the laboratory, first in vitro and then in vivo on mice and rabbits. He carried out the whole experimental cycle: from the discovery to the observation of the phenomenon, to the analysis in the laboratory, and to the production of the medicine. Vincenzo Tiberio discovered the penicillin almost thirty years earlier than Alexander Fleming.

What he lacked was the mass production and industrialization of the drug. Why? Fault of the society? Economic and cultural backwardness of Italy? Probably the international scientific community was not ready for such a revolutionary discovery, that would have saved millions of lives.

Key words: Vincenzo Tiberio -  In vivo experimental antibiotic therapy -

Discovery of antibiotics

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