Q:

How were antibiotics discovered?

A:

Quick Answer

The first known antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered when Alexander Fleming noticed that a dangerous bacteria was not growing around a patch of mold in a petri dish. However, the initial strain of penicillin he developed was unstable and he did not focus on its use in medicine.

Know More

Full Answer

Fleming was growing Staphylococcus, which causes abscesses and boils in humans. The mold grew accidentally while he was away. His initial paper reporting his find focused on its use for separating various types of bacteria. Other researchers, including Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, saw its potential therapeutic benefits and began working to further isolate and stabilize the compound.

The use of mold to inhibit bacterial growth was known prior to Fleming's discovery, but the exact mechanism was unknown and mold itself contains dangerous compounds. Ancient Egyptians treated wounds by binding a piece of moldy bread to it, perhaps for this reason. Some ancient mummies have been found to have high levels of naturally occurring antibiotics, such as tetracycline, as well. Joseph Lister had noticed that urine samples that contained mold often did not contain much bacteria in 1871, but he was unable to determine why this occurred.

After penicillin was developed, researchers began looking for other sources of antibiotics. Scientists have isolated antibiotic compounds produced by certain types of bacteria and other microbes, as well as by other plants and natural sources.

Learn more about Medications & Vitamins

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some home remedies for cellulitis?

    A:

    According to WebMD, cellulitis is an infection that is treated with antibiotics and skin care prescribed by your doctor. However, some home remedies may hasten healing and prevent the cellulitis from coming back; these include applying warm compresses to the affected area and keeping the area elevated.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How long does it take antibiotics to start working?

    A:

    A person with a bacterial infection typically stops being contagious 24 hours after starting antibiotics, says the UK's National Health Service. However, the NHS also notes that the speed of antibiotic treatment depends on the type and severity of the infection. MedicineNet advises patients to contact their doctor if they do not see improvement within a few days on an antibiotic treatment.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What antibiotics can you take for a sinus infection?

    A:

    Amoxicillin, brand name Amoxil, and amoxicillin-clavulanate -- Augmentin -- are antibiotics commonly prescribed for sinus infections, according to WebMD. If a patient is allergic to penicillin-related drugs, cefaclor and loracarbef are sometimes used. Treatment usually takes 10 to 14 days.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the advantages of antibiotics?

    A:

    The main advantage of taking antibiotics is that the medication can save the lives of people infected with serious bacterial infections. Antibiotics can also shorten the length of time of infection and prevent infections from spreading to other parts of the body and other people, according to WebMD.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore