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This topic takes on average 55 minutes to read.

There are a number of interactive features in this resource:

Topic last updated: 29 Sep 2021
    • Ico Science Applied Science (applied)
    • Biologybiology Biology
    • 14-16
    • 55

Beating bacteria

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Beating bacteria

Research and development to create new medicines involves testing large numbers of chemical compounds to look at their biological activity.

Decisions have to be made to pick which should be taken on to further development and production.

It can be relatively quick and easy to obtain some key experimental results on large numbers of compounds using isolated enzymes or cells. However other tests that involve the use of animals and human patients must only be carried out on a selected small number of compounds.

 

Medicines to beat bacteria

The different stages in development of a new medicine are shown in the interactive timeline below.

Bacteria are responsible for many diseases, you can learn more about diseases caused by bacteria in the Infectious Diseases resource.

New medicines are needed to treat bacterial infections. Bacteria frequently mutate and as a result infections due to strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have appeared which can be very difficult to treat. You can see how resistant bacteria can arise in the animation below.

You can carry out an activity to select the most promising new antibiotic. There are two alternative tasks - the Version 2 task is more difficult than the Version 1 task!