Antibiotics: A chemical substance produced by or derived from living cells which is capable of inhibiting the life processes or even destroying micro-organism is called Antibiotics.
The first antibiotic, discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1929 from the mould penicillium notatum, was penicillin. In 1938, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain isolated penicillin in pure form and proved its effectiveness as an antibiotic. It was started into medical practice in 1941. Penicillin is used beside large number of infections caused by various cocci, gram affirmative bacteria, etc. It is an effective drug for bronchitis, pneumonia, abcesses, and sore throat. Naturally occurring penicillins have been isolated all of these have the empirical formula, C9H11O4SN2R
The commonly used antibiotics are:
(i) Streptomycin: It was discovered in 1944 by Waksman. It is successful against tuberculosis. It is also used for other general infections like ears, throat, kidney and lungs. It is very useful in the treatment of meningitis and pneumonia. Streptomycin is an amino base and creates salts that are very soluble in water. The calcium and sulphate chloride double salts are white amorphous powders. The particle holds two strongly basic quanido groups and a weakly basic methylamino group.
Streptomycin is rapidly absorbed after intramuscular injection. Oral management of streptomycin is of no value in the treatment.
(ii) Chloramphenicol: It is a broad spectrum antibiotic. It was first isolated from a class of streptomyces. It has been formed synthetically on business basis. It is grayish or white needle like crystalline matters. It has a bitter taste. One gram of chloramphenicol is soluble in about 400 ml of water. It is generously soluble in alcohol.
It is effective against certain gram-positive and gram-negative microbes, some viruses and rickettsiae. It is very effective in the treatment of typhoid fever, para-typhoid fevers, diarrhoea and dysentery. It is also definite for meningitis, pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough and urinary tract infection.
Chloramphenicol may cause serious complications and hence it should not be used indiscriminately or for minor infections. Chloramphenicol in high concentrations slows down the growth of animal and plant cells.
(iii) Tetracyclines: The tetracyclines contain hydronapht-hacene skeleton as the characteristic structural unit. The structures of tetracycline are given as follows,
Tetracyclines are broad spectrum antibiotics and are effective against a number of kinds of bacteria, protozoa, larger viruses, parasites and typhus fever. These may be given orally.
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