Antibiotics


Today, our lives would not be the same without antibiotics. Antibiotics are substances derived from a microorganism that are able to inhibit or kill another microorganism. If antibiotics werenít around, a large portion of the human population would be dead because silly bacteria couldnít be gotten rid of. The advances in the field of medicine have been great because of antibiotics.


Antibiotics have been studied for over 3000 years. Ancient peoples discovered that some molds could treat burns, rashes, and other infections. They thought it was magic, but as time went on, they discovered the scientific aspects of it.


Louis Pasteur was one of the first of many scientists charging his way into the field of antibiotics. He showed that the effects of anthrax could be rendered harmless by simply injecting the animal with soil bacteria. Another scientist that made a significant breakthrough was Rudolf Emmerich. Emmerich showed that cholera was prevented in animals that had been injected with the streptococcus bacterium and then injected with the cholera bacillus. E. de Freudenreich was able to isolate an antibacterial product from a bacterium. He found that the blue pigment in the culture stopped the growth of other bacteria in the culture. Unfortunately, the disease-fighting antibiotic could not be made into a usable product because it was proven to be toxic and unstable to the body. Alexander Flemming was a pioneer of the antibacterial world. He discovered that the lysozymes in human tears made them natural antibacterial agents. His second breakthrough was one that would put him in the history books forever. He discovered penicillin. He wasnít able to do any hard research on it because he could not come up with a way to purify the penicillin. Gerhard Domagk was the scientist that finally came up with an atmosphere that was able to contain purified penicillin. Another big development was the sulfa drug. This came from a dye called prontosil. When it is put into the body, it turns into a germ-killing drug called sulfanilamide. It was proven this drug could treat and cure typhoid, scarlet fever and blood poisoning. Some of the more recent developments in antibiotics include peptide antibiotics and aerosolized antibiotics.

There are many forms of antibiotics. Some of them are: sulfanilamide, penicillins, aminoglycosides, tetracyclines, macrolides, lincosamides, streptogramins, and fluoroquinolones. Sulfanilamides, or sulfa drugs, are used to treat and cure typhoid, scarlet fever, and blood poisoning. The sulfa drugs stop the protein synthesis of folic acids in bacteria, so they cannot grow and spread. In WWII, soldiers were given sulfa powder to sprinkle on an open wound. Penicillins are the most widely known antibiotics. There are many types of penicillins because they are highly allergenic. Ampicillin, amoxicillin, and penicillin V are some derivatives of penicillin. Amoxicillin is used to treat gonorrhea, and ampicillin is used to treat certain types of cancers and bacterial infections. Aminoglycosides, tetracyclines, lincosamides, and macrolides come from soil bacteria. They bind the 30S subunit of the bacterial ribosome and prevent the transfer of amino acids to stop the production of the bacteria. Streptogramins basically do the same thing as the soil bacteria, except they bind the 50S ribosome instead. They are also used to treat infections resistant to vancomycin. Fluoroquinolones are used to treat anthrax. They block the DNA from even beginning to open itself up to perform transcription, replication or repair.There is a big problem with antibiotics though; they can stop working effectively if the bacteria become resistant to them. Certain antibiotics might work for a while on certain bacteria, but the bacteria can change its DNA to protect it from the antibiotic. Another way for bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics is the misuse of them. If they are prescribed wrongly, or unnecessarily, the personís body can be immune to the antibiotic. If we arenít careful with the antibiotics, they will no longer work for us and weíll have to find another way to treat infection. Scientists think the rolls of antibiotics in agriculture are also promoting antibiotic resistance in the animals. If the animals become resistant to the bacteria, humans will eat the meat from the animals, and become infected. Scientists are currently attempting to come up with alternatives. They are coming up with new drugs and new vaccines.
In more recent studies, scientists have found a