Medications

New diagnostic approach rapidly identifies the right antibiotics

Patients with bacterial infections who are promptly diagnosed and treated with the most effective antibiotic fare better than those who wait. But current methods of identifying which drug will kill the pathogen take days ...

Medications

World-first testing strategy for penicillin

New research led by The University of Western Australia will lead to a world-first in testing strategy for penicillin allergy to ensure patients aren't avoiding taking antibiotics when they don't need to, as well as preventing ...

Medications

Turning to old remedies for new health challenges

The last thing anyone wants during a stay in the hospital is a hospital-acquired infection. Nosocomial infections, as they are called, are on the rise as more pathogens become resistant to drugs currently available. One pathogen ...

Obstetrics & gynaecology

Maternal antibiotic treatment may harm preemies' lungs

New research in mice suggests that exposure to antibiotics before birth may impair lung development in premature infants. The study, the first to explore the gut-lung axis in prematurity, is published ahead of print in the ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Some progress made in slowing antibiotic resistance-linked deaths

(HealthDay)—Progress has been made in slowing antibiotic resistance-associated deaths, but more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year in the United States, according to a report published by the ...

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Antibiotic

In common usage, an antibiotic (from the Ancient Greek: ἀντί – anti, "against", and βίος – bios, "life") is a substance or compound that kills bacteria or inhibits their growth. Antibiotics belong to the broader group of antimicrobial compounds, used to treat infections caused by microorganisms, including fungi and protozoa.

The term "antibiotic" was coined by Selman Waksman in 1942 to describe any substance produced by a microorganism that is antagonistic to the growth of other microorganisms in high dilution. This original definition excluded naturally occurring substances that kill bacteria but are not produced by microorganisms (such as gastric juice and hydrogen peroxide) and also excluded synthetic antibacterial compounds such as the sulfonamides. Many antibiotics are relatively small molecules with a molecular weight less than 2000 Da.[citations needed]

With advances in medicinal chemistry, most antibiotics are now semisynthetic—modified chemically from original compounds found in nature, as is the case with beta-lactams (which include the penicillins, produced by fungi in the genus Penicillium, the cephalosporins, and the carbapenems). Some antibiotics are still produced and isolated from living organisms, such as the aminoglycosides, and others have been created through purely synthetic means: the sulfonamides, the quinolones, and the oxazolidinones. In addition to this origin-based classification into natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic, antibiotics may be divided into two broad groups according to their effect on microorganisms: those that kill bacteria are bactericidal agents, while those that only impair bacterial growth are known as bacteriostatic agents.

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