One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A crystalline, sulphur-containing amino acid produced by the hydrolysis of penicillins, used pharmacologically as a chelating agent to remove heavy metals such as copper from the body, and as an anti-inflammatory agent, especially for rheumatoid arthritis; 2-amino-3-methyl-3-mercaptobutanoic acid, (CH₃)₂C(SH)CH(NH₂)COOH.
1940s; earliest use found in Edward Penley Abraham (1913–1999), biochemist. From penicill- + amine.
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