Health and Medicine

Drugs and Medicines

Who discovered the antibiotic streptomycin?

The Russian-born microbiologist Selman A. Waksman (1888–1973) discovered streptomycin in 1943. Streptomycin was the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis. In 1944 Merck and Company agreed to produce it to be used against tuberculosis and tuberculosis meningitis. Streptomycin ultimately proved to have some human toxicity and was supplanted by other antibiotics, but its discovery changed the course of modern medicine. In addition to its use in treating tuberculosis, it was also used to treat bacterial meningitis, endocarditis, pulmonary and urinary tract infections, leprosy, typhoid fever, bacillary dysentery, cholera, and bubonic plague. Streptomycin saved countless lives, and its development led scientists to search the microbial world for other antibiotics and medicines. Waksman received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1952 for his discovery of streptomycin.


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