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From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cephalosporins are a type of group of antibiotics, which come from a fungus of the genus Acremonium.[1] Since their discovery, they have been frequently used in medicine as an effective treatment for a wide range of bacterial infections.[2]

Cephalosporins were first developed from a fungus, Cephalosporin acremonium, found in 1945.

Giuseppe Brotzu, a pharmacologist working in Cagliari, Italy, found the fungus while trying to make a map of places affected by the disease typhoid fever. This fungus appeared in sewage water from locations where fewer people were becoming ill from the disease.

Scientists at the University of Oxford were able to extract molecules from the fungus, to research and develop the first generation of these antibiotics during the late 1940s and the 1950s. These first became commercially available in 1964.[3]

Structure and characterization

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The first cephalosporins antibiotics were produced from a molecule called 'cephalosporin C', obtained from the Cephalosporin acremonium fungus. The molecule consists of two rings, each with a chain.

Second-generation cephalosporins were developed from first-generation cephalosporins, because of a need for more effective treatments against the increasing number of bacteria developing resistance to other antibiotics.

Third-generation cephalosporins are improved versions of the second-generation, as they are broad-spectrum antibiotics. Broad-spectrum antibiotics can be used against bacteria with or without protective membranes.[2]


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Cephalosporins work by attaching themselves to specific enzymes after the bacteria divide and duplicate. These enzymes are known as 'penicillin binding proteins' and are responsible for repairing the cell wall of bacteria. This leaves a gap in the bacterial cell wall, and results in the osmotic pressure inside a bacterium to build up. Bacteria can no longer survive if the osmotic pressure becomes too high.[4]

Medical and scientific use

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Cephalosporins are an effective treatment against bacteria which are Gram-positive.[2] Some examples of Gram-positive bacterial infections are meningitis and pneumonia.[5] Third-generation cephalosporins play an important role in treating such illnesses.[2]

From the 1960s to the 1990s, cephalosporins played a particularly significant role in US hospitals. They were used to treat patients affected by bacteria infections after operations, and this rate of infection was cut down by over 50%.[3]


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  1. "Definition of CEPHALOSPORIN". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2023-07-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Cornaglia, G. (2000). "Cephalosporins: a microbiological update". Clinical Microbiology and Infection. 6: 41–45. doi:10.1111/j.1469-0691.2000.tb02039.x. ISSN 1198-743X.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bhide, Datar, and Stebbins, Amar, Srikant, and Katherine (2020-08-24). "Case Histories of Significant Medical Advances: Cephalosporins". Harvard Business School General Management Unit Working Paper No. 20-133.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. Shahbaz, Kiran (2017-12-03). "Cephalosporins: pharmacology and chemistry". Pharmaceutical and Biological Evaluations. 4 (6): 234. doi:10.26510/2394-0859.pbe.2017.36. ISSN 2394-0859.
  5. Sizar, Omeed; Leslie, Stephen W.; Unakal, Chandrashekhar G. (2023), "Gram-Positive Bacteria", StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, PMID 29261915, retrieved 2023-07-19