How do drugs against microbes

Microbes and antimicrobials

Medicines against germs!

In ancient times, the main cause of death of people were infections caused by such microorganisms, viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites.

In conditions with limitations in medicine, infectious diseases remain the leading cause of death.

The unexpected discovery of penicillin in a moldy petri dish, made in 1928, opened a new era in medicine (military medicine). It was found that this natural component, produced by the Penicillium fungus, is toxic to bacteria, but can be used safely for humans. Through the use of penicillin during the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of human lives were saved. The first drug was used in Australia.

The discovery of penicillin was followed by an active search for other natural or synthetic compounds that could be used to treat infections caused by other pathogenic microbes.

Bacterial cells differ from human in many fundamental aspects, which provides ample opportunities for developing new drugs. Unlike them, fungi, parasites and viruses are similar in many respects to human cells, so researchers have to act in conditions of narrower possibilities and a higher risk of toxicity for patients.

How do antimicrobials differ from other drugs?

Such drugs as insulin and blood pressure lowering drugs are used to treat diseases that are peculiar to human physiology. These drugs are used for the purpose of therapeutic effect on human cells, and the benefits or harm from their use are limited for the patient receiving treatment. The effectiveness of these drugs is similar throughout the world, the value will be preserved for future generations.

Antimicrobials kill sensitive microorganisms with long-term consequences:

  • Resistance to antimicrobials is developed by microbes under the influence of mutations and the habituation of microorganisms.
  • The use of antimicrobial drugs disrupts the balance in microbial populations, which leads to an increase in the number of resistant microorganisms and changes in infections.
  • The effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs varies depending on the time of year, the country and model of use of antimicrobials, the movement of microorganisms between individual communities.
  • The misuse of antimicrobial agents threatens the well-being of future generations.

Crisis in the development of new antimicrobials:

The knowledge, technologies available today for the discovery and development of new drugs, far exceed the resources available to scientists in the past decades. However, researchers and manufacturers of pharmaceutical products are significantly limited in the financial means for assessing, clinical testing of new drugs. Therefore, the number of antimicrobial drugs being developed has declined sharply over the past decade, raising concerns about the availability of effective treatment options in the future.

A number of scientific and economic factors impede the development of new drugs.

Limited market for new drugs:

  • Antimicrobials are usually used for 1-10 days, which reduces financial incentives for the development of new drugs.
  • To curb the development of resistance, clinical pharmacists and national drug regulatory authorities often impose restrictions on the use of new antimicrobials.
  • Many parasitic, tropical diseases are rare in developed countries, which are the main source of income for drug manufacturers.

Biological problems:

  • The detection of previously unknown microbes for the effects of antimicrobial agents has proved difficult.
  • Most new antimicrobials are chemical versions of older drugs. Therefore, the development of sustainability can occur quickly.


  • Antimicrobials are generally relatively safe compared to other drugs used to treat diseases in humans.
  • Accordingly, the tolerance threshold for any documented or presumed toxicity of new drugs is low.
  • The risk that new drugs will be withdrawn from trade is a powerful deterrent in the development of new drugs.

Therefore, new drugs for fighting in microbes and viruses do not have dynamic development!