Penicillin is an antibiotic drug derived from the fungus Penicillium. This great discovery in the world of medicine is attributed to Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist. He discovered penicillin in 1928. However, experts were able to produce it on a large scale only 10 years later. Those responsible for this task were, among others, biochemist Ernst Boris Chain and pathologist Howard Florey. In this article, we will discuss the uses of penicillin in the treatment of diseases.
Penicillin is an antibiotic that belongs to the family of beta-lactams (β-lactams). This antibiotic has a broad spectrum of action and is effective against many types of bacteria, such as pneumococci, streptococci, Clostridium tetani (which triggers tetanus) and meningococcus, among others.
We say that penicillin was an amazing discovery in the world of medicine because, when it was discovered, it helped eradicate many diseases that were deadly to patients at that time. These include sepsis, gonorrhea and even scarlet fever.
However, medical professionals have considerably abused the administration of penicillin and its synthetic and semisynthetic derivatives discovered over time. As a result, bacteria have become resistant to these antibiotics. This is a serious global health problem. Today, experts continue to investigate new mechanisms of action and therapeutic alternatives to combat resistant bacteria.
What are beta-lactam antibiotics?
In general, these types of antibiotics have a narrow spectrum because they are effective only against gram-positive bacteria. (However, penicillin has a broad spectrum).
These drugs are administered orally and parenterally. They are also very safe because the possible side effects are limited to hypersensitivity reactions. However, these reactions should be kept under control as they may cause anaphylactic shock.
Moreover, although beta-lactam antibiotics can cross the placental barrier, doctors may prescribe them to pregnant women because of the excellent safety profile they have shown in clinical trials.
In general, these antibiotics have many uses.
What are the uses of penicillin?
Penicillin is a substance that kills and inhibits the growth of bacteria. For this reason, experts consider it a bactericidal drug. However, it can only destroy microorganisms that grow and multiply, not those that are inactive.
Moreover, as mentioned above, penicillin belongs to the group of β-lactam antibiotics. This family of drugs inhibits the synthesis of the structure of the bacterial cell wall, which is essential for the life of bacteria. Penicillin kills these microorganisms.
To this end, penicillin inhibits the process of transpeptidation and ultimately prevents the synthesis of peptidoglycan. In general, the antibiotic must penetrate inside the cell and, once there, bind to bacterial proteins.