Antibiotics are medicines that can kill bacteria that cause infection. The first antibiotic discovered was penicillin in the 1920s by Alexander Fleming. The discovery of antibiotics is one of the important discoveries in the field of health as evidence of the progress of medical science at that time. This discovery caused several infectious diseases such as pneumonia — infections that cause inflammation of the lung sacs that can cause fluid filling — dropped dramatically and caused many lives to be saved at that time. In fact, before the discovery of antibiotics many cases of death due to small infections such as whooping cough and small wounds caused by a knife cut and so on.
Work Mechanism of Antibiotics
Antibiotics attack bacteria precisely because these drugs bind to structures found only in bacterial cells. For example, erythromycin and streptomycin antibiotics which are commonly used bind to bacterial ribosomes. Human ribosomes are different from ribosomes in bacteria so antibiotics only attack ribosomes in bacteria without causing interference with human ribosomes. Other antibiotics such as penicillin, ampicillin, and bacitracin disrupt the synthesis of cell walls, cell organelles which are only found in most bacteria and not found in humans and animals.
Progress due to the discovery of these antibiotics led to predictions from several doctors in the early 1900s that diseases caused by infections would become extinct. However, this prediction did not occur because in its development it was found cases of bacterial infections that did not respond to antibiotics until in 1952 it was found that some bacteria have genetic properties that allow bacteria to survive antibiotic attacks.
Antibiotics work by selecting resistant bacteria. However, a gene that codes for an enzyme that can break down antibiotics or a mutase that changes where antibiotics are bound can make bacteria and their offspring resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, it is unfortunate that our euphoria for the discovery of this infectious bacterial invasion drug could lead to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Misuse of Antibiotics
Some mistakes are made in the use of antibiotics such as some doctors may prescribe antibiotics to patients infected with the virus, who do not respond to antibiotic treatment. Besides, patients who stop taking antibiotics that do not comply with the prescribed rules can allow mutant bacteria that take longer to kill to be crossed and multiply which can then cause mutations in such bacteria so that they are fully resistant to antibiotics.
Reference sources for reading:
Campbell, Neil A., Eric J. Simon, Jean L. Dickey, Kelly A. Hogan, and Jane B. Reece. Digest of Biology, 6th Edition. Translated by Erlangga Publisher. Jakarta: Erlangga Publisher