The science
dealing with the study of the prevention and treatment of diseases caused by
micro-organisms is known as medical microbiology. Its subdisciplines are
virology (study of viruses), bacteriology (study of bacteria), mycology (study
of fungi), phycology (study of algae) and protozoology (study of protozoa). For
the treatment of diseases inhibitory chemicals employed to kill micro-organisms
or prevent their growth, are called antimicrobial agents. These are classified
according to their application and spectrum of activity, as germicides that
kill micro-organisms, whereas micro-biostatic agents inhibit the growth of
pathogens and enable the leucocytes and other defense mechanism of the host to
cope up with static invaders. The germicides may exhibit selective toxicity
depending on their spectrum of activity. They may act as viricides (killing
viruses), bacteriocides (killing bacteria), algicides (killing algae) or
fungicides (killing fungi). The beginning of modern chemotherapy has largely
been due to the efforts of Dr. Paul Ehrlich (1910), who used salvarsan, as
arsenic derivative effective against syphilis. Paul Ehrlich used the term
chemotherapy for curing the infectious disease without injury to the host’s
tissue, known as chemotherapeutic agents such as antibacterial, antiprotosoal,
antiviral, antineoplastic, antitubercular and antifungal agents. Later on,
Domagk (1953) prepared an important chemotherapeutic agent sulfanilamide.


The antibacterial agents are classified
in three categories:

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Antibiotics and chemically synthesized
chemotherapeutic agents.

Non-antibiotic chemotherapeutic agents
(Disinfectants, antiseptics and preservatives)

Immunological products. 

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