Helping robots to build new antibiotics

A team from The University of Manchester have engineered a common gut bacterium to produce a new class of antibiotics by using robotics. These antibiotics, known as class II polyketides, are also naturally produced by soil ...

Scissors get stuck—another way bacteria use CRISPR/Cas9

In biotech these days, CRISPR/Cas9 is a hot topic, because of its utility as a precise gene editing tool. Before humans repurposed it, CRISPR/Cas9 was a sort of internal immune system bacteria use to defend themselves against ...

How the antibiotic chloramphenicol causes damage to eukaryotes

A group of scientists from Japan led by Professor Takashi Kamakura of Tokyo University of Science has demonstrated the molecular and cellular basis of the toxic effects of the antibiotic chloramphenicol on eukaryotic cells. ...

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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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