The Mechanisms of Reactions of β-Lactam Antibiotics

Michael I. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter explains that penicillin was the first naturally occurring antibiotic to be characterized and used in clinical medicine. It can be seen as the progenitor of the β-lactam family of antibiotics, which are characterized by the possession of the four-membered β -lactam ring. Penicillins were originally detected in fungi but subsequently were found in streptomycetes. The cephalosporins, second member of the β -lactam antibiotic family, were also originally discovered in fungi but later detected in streptomycetes. At present, p-lactam antibiotics can be classified into several groups according to their structure: penicillins (penams), cephalosporins (cephems), cephamycins, oxacephems, penems, clavulanic acid, thienamycin (carbapenems), nocardicins, and monobactams. The chapter highlights that large number of nuclear analogs of the β -lactam antibiotics have been prepared by complete chemical synthesis or by partial synthesis starting from a naturally occurring β -lactam. Of these only the oxacephems and the penems have been investigated clinically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-270
Number of pages106
JournalAdvances in Physical Organic Chemistry
Issue numberC
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1987


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