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Tetracycline (Molecule of the Month for April 1999)


Lloyd H. Conover invented the antibiotic tetracycline, which became the most prescribed broad spectrum antibiotic in the United States within three years and remains the drug of choice for a number of serious bacterial infections.

Tetracycline was the first therapeutically superior drug to be made by chemical alteration of an antibiotic produced by microbial metabolism. It sparked a wide-scale search for superior structurally modified antibiotics, which has provided most of the important antibiotic discoveries made since then.

Tetracycline is prescribed for many different infections particularly respiratory tract infections due to Hemophilus influenza, Streptococcus pneumonia or Mycoplasma pneumonia. It is also used for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhus, chancroid, cholera, brucellosis, anthrax, syphilis and acne.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)

Picture of Tetracycline

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Tetracycline structure
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Picture of Tetracycline

C22 H24 N2 O8

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for April 1999 )