Skip to content

Help and information

This topic takes on average 55 minutes to read.

There are a number of interactive features in this resource:

Topic last updated: 24 Nov 2021
    • Biologybiology Biology
    • 14-16
    • 16+
    • 55

Infectious diseases - medicines

  of  6

Different types of medicines

There are many different types of medicines available to us today, some of which cure diseases while others make us feel better and able to carry on with our lives. They include:

  • Medicines which destroy infectious organisms, e.g. antibiotics.
  • Medicines which relieve symptoms but do not destroy pathogens, e.g. different kinds of pain killers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol.
  • Medicines which destroy cancer cells. Anticancer medicines are often given in combination, e.g. mitomycin, ifosfamide and cisplatin (MIC).
  • Medicines which change the chemistry of the blood eg statins which help reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Medicines which replace missing chemicals in the blood, e.g. insulin.
  • Personalised medicines are medicines which are prescribed using information from studies of the human genome to identify the best medicine to use for a particular genotype. Particular groups of people, or particular types of cancers, will be given specific drugs. Medicine will be stratified so that everyone gets the medicine which will works best for them based on genetic information rather than trial and error. Not only will this mean people are treated more successfully but also the risk of unpleasant side effects will be kept to a minimum.

As our understanding of the human genome grows it may be possible to produce personalised medicines for everyone
Courtesy: Peter Artymiuk/Wellcome Images