Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacterial cells, and help us cope with the infectious disease caused by certain bacteria. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic, in 1928. But the ancient Greeks and Egyptians already used extracts of moulds and plants to treat infections.
Antibiotics can kill bacteria using different mechanisms. Some of them attack the bacterial wall, which doesn’t exist in human cells; others block specific bacterial functions or growth processes.
A recent problem we are facing is antibiotic resistance, which is when a target bacterium becomes resistant to a particular antibiotic. This is regarded as an important threat to humanity, but most drug companies are not doing any research to find new antibiotics.
In this zone we’ll meet a scientist researching how the cells of our immune system fight certain bacteria, and another looking at bacteria which affect animals. There is a scientist who is making new chemicals to fight nasty bacteria, a scientist who use maths to fight very dangerous hospital superbugs. Bacteria need certain metals in order to grow, and there is a scientist in this zone researching how taking these metals away will affect the bacteria, and looking at how this could be used to make new medicines.