Case Histories of Significant Medical Advances: Cephalosporins
18 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2020 Last revised: 9 Jun 2021
Date Written: May 15, 2021
Our case history describes the development of three generations of cephalosporins – antibiotics that have significantly reduced hospital infections. After providing an overview of antibiotic development and its challenges we describe how: 1) Early (pre-cephalosporin) antibiotics were developed in the first half of the 20th century, 2) Drug companies developed first-generation cephalosporins in the 1960s using foundational discoveries made by researchers in Italy and the UK in the 1940s and 1950s, and 3) Continued modifications of cephalosporin molecules resulted in second and third generations of the drugs in the 1970s and 1980s.
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