What are antibiotics?

The antibiotic term was used for the first time in early 40’s of the last century. During decades, the antibiotic definition has been changed many times.

Today, «antibiotic» definition differs from definition that was used in biology and microbiology over 70 years ago. One of the shortest «antibiotic» definitions can be found in Wikipedia. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia antibiotic is regarded as an active substance, used to kill bacteria.

Antibiotic – definition and examples

The common definition for all types of antibiotics is almost identical. Antibiotics are synthetic or semisynthetic substances that delay the growth and suppress the development of pathogenic bacteria.

The difference between antibiotic definitions from different groups lies in the description of their pharmacological and microbiological properties. You can find definitions of various types of antibiotics not only in Wikipedia, but also in medical magazines, blogs and online forums.

Besides, the antibiotic definition is always published on package insert and Highlights of Prescribing Information (PDF). The most relevant information indicated on the package insert is a definition of microbiological characteristics of an antibiotic drug. You may find some examples of antibiotic definition in this review.

Antibiotics – definition using the example of penicillins

The penicillin group of antibiotics contains dozens of various drugs, including Ampicillin and Amoxicillin. These semisynthetic antibiotics do not only have similar names, but also have identical pharmacological properties.

Amoxicillin is an analog of Ampicillin; therefore, these two antibiotic drugs have similar microbiological properties, indications for use and side effects.

Just as other semisynthetic penicillin drugs, Amoxicillin and Ampicillin provide an effective inhibition of cell-wall biosynthesis aerobic gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms, as well as Helicobacter pylori bacteria.

Cephalosporin antibiotics – definition

The same as penicillin antibiotics, cephalosporins provide an inhibition of biosynthesis of cell wall. The microbiological properties of cephalosporins and penicillins are similar. However, cephalosporins are ineffective in treatment of infectious diseases caused by Helicobacter pylori, unlike penicillins.

The examples of cephalosporins and penicillins demonstrate that the microbiological definition of various antibiotic groups may be very similar, yet the description of their antibacterial properties may have fundamental differences.