What is Penicillin?

Penicillin (sometimes abbreviated PCN or pen) is a group of antibiotics derived from ''Penicillium'' fungi. Penicillin antibiotics are historically significant because they are the first drugs that were effective against many previously serious diseases such as syphilis and Staphylococcus infections.

Penicillins are still widely used today, though many types of bacteria are now resistant. All penicillins are Beta-lactam antibiotics and are used in the treatment of bacterial infections caused by susceptible, usually Gram-positive, organisms.

The term "penicillin" can also refer to the ''mixture'' of substances that are naturally, and organically, produced.

The term "penam" is used to describe the core skeleton of a member of a penicillin antibiotic. This skeleton has the molecular formula R-C9H11N2O4S, where R is a variable side chain.

Normal penicillin has a molecular weight of 313 to 334 g/mol (latter for penicillin G). Penicillin types with additional molecular groups attached may have a molar mass around 500 g/mol. For example, cloxacillin has a molar mass of 476 g/mol and dicloxacillin has a molar mass of 492 g/mol.

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Penicillin" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Oct 8, 2014

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