Different processes, such as chemical synthesis, fermentation, and biotechnology, are used to create antibiotics. Purification and formulation of the final product come after creating and optimizing the antibiotic component synthesis.
Since their discovery in the early 20th century, antibiotics have been vital treatments for bacterial infections and have saved many lives. To ensure the effectiveness and safety of antibiotics, complicated chemical synthesis is used throughout production, and strict quality control procedures are needed.
This article will examine the many processes used in manufacturing antibiotics. It will also examine manufacturers' difficulties and the procedures for getting these life-saving medications to market.
Did you know?
We must use antibiotics only when necessary to protect ourselves from unnecessary antibiotic use risks and combat antibiotic resistance.
What Are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are chemical substances produced by a living organism, usually a microorganism, that harm other microorganisms. Antibiotics are drugs used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals by killing the bacteria or making it difficult for them to grow and multiply.
Bacteria are microorganisms, and they can be found in the environment, inside and outside our bodies.
History of Antibiotics
Alexander Fleming, a Scottish physician and microbiologist, discovered penicillin in 1928 at St. Mary's Hospital in London. His discovery resulted in the development of antibiotics, significantly reducing infection-related deaths.
Just before antibiotics were discovered, bacterial infections caused many deaths during the First World War. Florey and Chain's work in 1938 enabled the industrial production of antibiotics for medical use. In 1941, Selman Waksman coined the term "antibiotic" to describe any small molecule a microbe produces that inhibits other microbes' growth.
Antibiotics provided much-needed relief as they helped cure mass infections after they were mass-produced. They are now widely used to treat bacterial infections and save lives. Antibiotic use has increased over the last century. Antibiotic production is naturally occurring.
The Step-by-Step Manufacturing Process for Antibiotics
Antibiotic production can be divided into natural fermentation, semi-synthetic, and synthetic. As more bacteria resist currently available antibiotics, research and development of new antibiotics remain critical.
Antibiotics only treat bacteria-related infections. They do not work on viruses.
Antibiotics are produced in industries by fermenting the source microorganism in large containers containing a liquid growth medium. They are derived from microorganisms or other living systems.
Even though most antibiotics are naturally occurring, they are challenging to obtain in sufficient quantities for industrial production. To accomplish this, it is necessary to isolate the microorganism during fermentation. This microorganism is combined with culture for growth in a large vessel. The antibiotic produced by this microorganism is harvested by filtering the end product.
For a long time, antibiotics have transformed medicine by treating bacterial infections.
1. Start the Culture
Firstly, the microorganism used to produce the antibiotic is isolated and left to grow at a suitable temperature. It multiplies many times before fermentation can begin.
In the lab, a starter culture is created from a previous sample that was cold-stored earlier. A sample of the organism is placed on an agar plate. The initial culture is then grown in shake flasks with food and other nutrients. This results in a suspension that can be moved to seed tanks for continued growth.
Microorganisms are cultured in large seed tanks. Steel tanks are designed to provide an ideal environment for microorganism growth.
Warm water and carbohydrate foods like lactose or glucose sugars are added to this seed tank to help the specific microorganism survive, grow and thrive. Other carbon sources, such as acetic acid, are added to the tanks, along with alcohol and hydrocarbons.
Nitrogen sources such as ammonia salts, vitamins, amino acids, and minor nutrients comprise the seed tank's composition. Mixers in the seed tanks keep the growth medium moving, and a pump delivers sterilised, filtered air.
The material in the seed tanks is transferred to the primary fermentation tanks after a few days. Hygiene must be maintained, as contamination can spoil the culture and destroy the whole batch.
The fermentation tank is a larger version of the steel seed tank, made of the same growth medium. The seed tank provides a favourable environment for growth.
Microorganisms are allowed to grow and multiply in this environment. During this process, they excrete large amounts of the desired antibiotic.
The tanks are kept at the appropriate temperature. It is constantly agitated and fed a constant flow of sterilised air and anti-foaming agents. Acids and bases are added to the tank because pH control is critical for optimal growth. Fermentation is an essential step in the manufacturing process.
3. Purification and isolation
Antibiotics are produced in abundance after three to four days. After this, the isolation process can begin. The fermentation broth is purified by various methods depending on the antibiotics produced.
Ion exchange could be used to purify water-soluble antibiotic compounds. These methods separate the compound from the organic waste materials in the broth before passing it through equipment that separates the other water-soluble compounds from the desired one.
A solvent extraction method is used to isolate an oil-soluble antibiotic like penicillin. In this method, the broth is treated with organic solvents like butyl acetate or methyl isobutyl ketone, which can specifically dissolve the antibiotic.
Antibiotic products can be sold as solutions in intravenous bags or syringes, such as pills, gel capsules, or powders incorporated into topical ointments. After isolation, various refining steps are taken depending on the antibiotic's final form.
The crystalline antibiotic is dissolved in a solution, placed in an intravenous bag, and then hermetically sealed. The powdered antibiotic is physically filled into the bottom half of a gel capsule before the top half is mechanically fitted on top.
Antibiotics are then transported to the final packaging station, stacked and placed in boxes here, loaded onto trucks and delivered to distributors, hospitals, and pharmacies. The entire fermentation, recovery, and processing can take five to eight days.
The Constant Need for Research and Development in the Field of Antibiotics.
Antibiotic research and development are critical. Antibiotics are produced by natural fermentation, which uses microorganisms, semi-synthetic methods, which alter natural antibiotics to make new compounds; and synthetic methods, which produce entirely new antibiotics.
Finding new antibiotics is essential because antibiotic resistance seriously threatens global health. Antibiotic overuse and misuse have increased tremendously, developing antibiotic resistance in many people.
This has resulted in the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making bacterial infections harder to treat. It is essential to use antibiotics responsibly and diligently to prevent antibiotic resistance.
Repackaging delivery systems is crucial to enhancing the efficacy of currently produced antibiotics, in addition to research and development into creating new antibiotics. The ability to add antibiotics directly to implanted devices, aerosolise antibiotics for direct delivery, and combine antibiotics with non-antibiotics to improve outcomes are examples of advancements in this field.
The need for funding antibiotic research and development and the desire to produce new, more effective antibiotics has increased. This is due to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria strains. To prevent antibiotic resistance, it is crucial to encourage antibiotic use wisely.
Why Is It Critical to Use Antibiotics Only When Necessary?
Antibiotics are vital in infection treatment and have saved countless lives. However, antibiotics can cause side effects and contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is one of the most severe threats to public health.
Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections, but sometimes they are prescribed for viral infections against which they are ineffective. When antibiotics are required, the advantages typically outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance.
However, when antibiotics are prescribed and misused unnecessarily, they jeopardise their usefulness.
Antibiotics are used to treat many infections the world over. Antibiotics cure bacterial infections by killing bacteria in animals and humans or preventing them from growing further. They treat infections like strep throat, whooping cough, urinary tract infections, and severe infections like sepsis.
Antibiotic discovery and industrial production have been a boon. Manufacturing antibiotics is crucial for treating bacterial infections and enhancing public health despite the difficulties involved.
The process involves several steps, including fermentation, extraction, purification, and formulation. Each step requires careful attention to detail to ensure antibiotic quality and purity and prevent contamination.
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