Antibiotics That Will Leave You Intrigued

Antibiotics are natural secretions of one organism which destroy or inhibit the growth of the other. ‘Antibiotics’ was a term coined by Paul Vuillemin in the year 1889, from ‘antibiosis’ which means ‘against life’.

The discovery of antibiotics is one of the most important breakthroughs which revolutionized medical science. Though preparations from various plants or molds were used since ancient times, the relation between the treatment of diseases and antimicrobial properties of these mixtures was never given much thought.
It was only in the late 19th century that the germ theory of diseases gained acceptance and explained the role of microorganisms as causative agents of various diseases. This led scientists to venture into the depths of this phenomenon to seek various methods which could destroy or inhibit the growth of these disease-causing pathogens. This article explains the history behind the discovery of these wonder drugs that changed the face of medicine.

History and Discovery of Antibiotics
The late 1800s was an era when the germ theory of diseases was gaining gradual acceptance. According to this theory, microbes were termed as the causative agents of various ailments. This led scientists to discover different drugs in order to kill and overcome these disease-causing bacteria.

Joseph Lister began his research on molds that hindered the growth of bacteria.

Louis Pasteur discovered methods to kill bacteria and laid the groundwork for this important breakthrough in medicine. In 1877, he showed that anthrax―a bacterial disease―can be controlled by injecting soil bacteria.
Later in 1888, the German scientist E. de Freudenreich isolated pyocyanase from bacterium Bacillus pyocyaneus which stunted the growth of other bacteria in cell culture. However, pyocyanase failed the clinical trials and was proved to be unstable and poisonous. Hence, though it was the first antibiotic to be discovered, its development into an effective drug was not possible. Then came Sir Alexander Fleming, a British scientist, who reported in the early 1920s that human tears contain an antibacterial agent called lysozome which can lyse bacterial cells. This would have been the end of the road for antibiotics, had it not been for the serendipitous discovery of penicillin.
It so happened that after returning from a vacation, Fleming looked through a set of Staphylococcus aureus bacterial culture plates that he had left out. He observed that a blue-green mold Penicillium notatum had contaminated the plates and bacteria around that area had ceased to exist. Fleming hypothesized that a substance secreted by the mold was responsible for the breakdown of bacteria.