Science Questions

Sun, 12th Dec 2004

Part of the show Superbugs, MRSA, Phages & Bdellovibrio.


Cathy asked:

What ingredients go into antibiotics, and how do they work ?


Tablets taken by mouth contain a lot of the actual antibiotic. They also contain lots of other substances which enable the manufacturer to produce a tablet that can be kept in packets and are easy to swallow. For example, the smooth outer coatings of some tablets are often made out of vegetable products. Once the tablet is in your stomach, the active bits distribute around the body through the bloodstream, reach the site(s) of infection, and kill the offending bacteria. There are three different ways antibiotics kill bacteria. Some stop bacteria from growing by stopping their protein production; others stop them from making chromosomes; and the third type stop bacteria from making cell walls. Without a proper cell wall, the bacteria explode and die.


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