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Term: antibiotic

Origin: Anc Greek αντί/anti(=against) + βιοτικός/biotic(=of life)
> βίος/bios(=life) > βία/bia(=haste, force)

Coined : In 1928, while studying influenza, British microbiologist Alexander  Fleming (1881-1955)  noticed that mould had developed accidentally on a set of culture dishes being used to grow the staphylococci germ. The mould had created a bacteria-free circle around itself. Fleming experimented further and named the active substance penicillin. Fleming was not the first who observed the antibacterial properties of Penicillium species but was the first who proposed that penicillin can used to kill gram positive bacteria from a mixture of microorganisms.. The term "antibiotic" was coined in 1942 by Selman Waksman (1888 –1973) a biochemist and microbiologist in order to describe any substance produced by a microorganism that is antagonistic to the growth of other microorganisms in high dilution.

A substance produced by one microorganism (fungi or bacteria) that selectively inhibits the growth of others. Nowadays the term is reffered  also to the  hemisynthetic substances with similar properties.

Waksman isolated, together with his students and associates, a number of new antibiotics, including actinomycin (1940), clavacin, streptothricin (1942), streptomycin (1943), grisein (1946), neomycin (1948, and others. Two of these, streptomycin and neomycin, have found extensive application in the treatment of numerous infectious diseases of men, animals and plants. They have been covered by patents, that on streptomycin having been recently listed as one of the ten «patents that shaped the world».

More: "Les Prix Nobel". 2 Mar 2011
For more updated biographical information, see: Waksman, Selman Abraham, My Life With Microbes. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1954.

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