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(strĕp'tōmī`sĭn), antibioticantibiotic,
any of a variety of substances, usually obtained from microorganisms, that inhibit the growth of or destroy certain other microorganisms. Types of Antibiotics
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 produced by soil bacteria of the genus Streptomyces and active against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria (see Gram's stainGram's stain,
laboratory staining technique that distinguishes between two groups of bacteria by the identification of differences in the structure of their cell walls. The Gram stain, named after its developer, Danish bacteriologist Christian Gram, has become an important tool
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), including species resistant to other antibiotics, e.g., some streptococci, penicillin-resistant staphylococci, and bacteria of the genera Proteus and Pseudomonas. Originally isolated in 1947 by Albert Schatz, a graduate student working in Selman A. WaksmanWaksman, Selman Abraham
, 1888–1973, American microbiologist, b. Priluka, Russia, grad. Rutgers (B.S. 1915), Ph.D. Univ. of California, 1918. He went to the United States in 1910 and was naturalized in 1916.
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's laboratory, streptomycin is effective against tubercle bacilli and has long been a mainstay of tuberculosistuberculosis
(TB), contagious, wasting disease caused by any of several mycobacteria. The most common form of the disease is tuberculosis of the lungs (pulmonary consumption, or phthisis), but the intestines, bones and joints, the skin, and the genitourinary, lymphatic, and
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 therapy. Because streptomycin-resistant tubercle bacilli emerge during treatment, the antibiotic is usually used in combination with one or more of the drugs isoniazidisoniazid
, drug used to treat tuberculosis. Also known as isonicotinic acid hydrazide, isoniazid is the most effective antituberculosis drug currently available. The drug inhibits or kills the tubercle bacilli that cause the disease.
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, ethambutol, and aminosalicylic acid, and isoniazid is now the treatment of choice for prevention of tuberculosis and for active cases. Streptomycin acts by inhibiting protein synthesis and damaging cell membranes in susceptible microorganisms. Possible side effects include injury to the kidneys and nerve damage that can result in dizziness and deafness.


See study by P. Pringle (2012).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an antibiotic produced by fungi of the genus Actinomyces (Streptomyces). Streptomycin was first obtained in 1944 from A. griseus by the American scientist S. A. Waksman and his colleagues. Chemically, streptomycin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic; in acid hydrolysis, the molecule breaks down into streptidine (A; see formula) and streptobiosamine (B). Chemically, streptidine is the hexatomic cyclic alcohol inositol substituted by two guanidine groups. Streptobiosamine is a disaccharide containing a methylamino group. Streptomycin has the properties of a base; it dissolves readily in water and is virtually insoluble in organic solvents. It easily forms salts with various acids. The molecular weight is 581.6. In a dried state, streptomycin remains active for more than two years.

A broad-spectrum antibiotic, streptomycin is active against tuberculosis bacteria and the pathogens of plague, tularemia, brucellosis, and dysentery. It is also active against Escherichia coli, staphylococci, streptococci, pneumococci, gonococci, and menin-gococci but is not active against fungi, protozoans, anaerobic microbes, spirochetes, rickettsiae, or viruses. Attaching itself to ribosomes in the bacterial cell, streptomycin interferes with the reading of the genetic code and inhibits the biosynthesis of protein. The primary mechanism of streptomycin’s effect has not been definitely established. Since with the clinical use of streptomycin strains of resistant bacteria are formed, the antibiotic is used in combination with other compounds. Streptomycin is most effective in the treatment of tuberculosis; it is also used in treating meningitis, endocarditis, whooping cough, gonorrhea, and many other diseases. The most serious side effects arising from prolonged use of streptomycin are vestibular disorders and impairment of hearing.

In the USSR, streptomycin is used in various forms, among which are streptomycin sulfate, a calcium chloride complex of streptomycin, the streptomycin salt of saluside (streptosaluside), and certain combinations (streptocillin, streptodimycin). Dihy-drostreptomycin, a product of the partial reduction of streptomycin, is also used. Streptomycin is used in biochemistry in studying the functions of ribosomes and the mechanism of protein biosynthesis.


Khimiia antibiotikov, 3rd ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1961.
Kan, G. S. Streptomitsin. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Navashin, S. M., and I. P. Fomina. Spravochnikpo antibiolikam, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1974.
Molekuliarnye osnovy deistviia antibiotikov. Moscow, 1975. (Translated from English.)
Streptomycin: Nature and Practical Applications. Edited by S. A. Waksman. Baltimore, Md., 1949.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


C21H39O12N7 A water-soluble antibiotic obtained from Streptomyces griseus that is used principally in the treatment of tuberculosis.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


an antibiotic obtained from the bacterium Streptomyces griseus: used in the treatment of tuberculosis and Gram-negative bacterial infections. Formula: C21H39N7O12
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005