Role of Bacteria in Medicines:
Bacteria played an important role in the manufacturing of medicines. These are-
(1) Antibiotics- These are organic substances obtained from living organisms. These substances kill or inhibit the growth of other organisms. Gramicidin, Tyrothricin, Subtilin and Bacitracin are some of the antibiotics obtained from bacteria. But none of these has been found of much use in medicines. Streptomycin, Aureomycin and Terramycin obtained from actinomycetes have been found more effective and powerful antibiotics. These are broad-spectrum antibiotics used for the cure of pneumonia, tuberculosis, sore throat, etc.
(2) Serums- A serum is a substance having antitoxin of a particular pathogen. Serums are used as a preventive measure against bacterial invasion. This provides immunity to the body to a particular disease. For preparing a serum, small doses of bacterial toxin are injected into the blood of healthy animals such as horses. The toxin is injected at regular intervals with increasing doses. The body produces antitoxin to neutralize the effect of a toxin. This is continued for several months. The blood of such animals is now taken out. On chilling, clear straw-coloured serum separates out. This is serum.
(3) Vaccines- Vaccines are used for protection against infection from a particular disease such as cholera, typhoid and smallpox. A vaccine is killed suspension of pathogenic bacteria. On injecting into the body of man, he gets a mild attack of the disease and is stimulated to produce antitoxins. This provides a considerable degree of immunity.
(4) Vitamins- Vitamins B and K are obtained from Escherichia coli, present in the human intestinal tract. Various constituents of vitamin B such as riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid and biotin are obtained from different species of bacteria. Vitamin C is obtained from acetic acid.