Georgopapadakou, Nafsika H. Department of Infectious Diseases, DuPont Research Laboratories, Wilmington, Delaware.
Last reviewed:October 2016
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- Antimicrobial activity
- Mechanism of action
- Microbial resistance
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A chemical substance, produced by microorganisms, plants, marine organisms, and synthetically, that has the capacity in dilute solutions to inhibit the growth of bacteria or destroy bacteria. Antibiotics are important antibacterial agents. Most are produced by the fermentation of microorganisms or by semisynthetic approaches that involve chemical derivatizations of the naturally occurring antibiotics. In addition, some antibiotics have been isolated from terrestrial plants and marine organisms. Since the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928, thousands of antibiotics have been isolated and identified. However, relatively few of the natural or semisynthetic compounds have reached commercial status because most of these compounds are not active in an animal model, are too toxic, or have very limited efficacy. Still, some have particular value in the treatment of infectious diseases (Fig. 1). In general, antibiotics differ markedly in their physicochemical and pharmacological properties, antimicrobial spectra, and mechanisms of action. See also: Antimicrobial agents; Infectious disease; Public health
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