The aminoglycosides are one of the major categories of antibiotics. Amongst others they include streptomycin and paromomycin. Streptomycin is used to treat tuberculosis which is resistant to conventional treatments. It is also used to treat some resistant Gonococcal infections. Paromomycin is used as an antiparasitic agent against some amoebae and Cryptosporidium, a protozoon parasite, i.e. one which consists of a single cell. These medicines can be administered intravenously, intramuscularly or topically to treat wounds or eye infections. In the last of these situations eye drops are used.
How do the aminoglycosides work?
The aminoglycosides inhibit bacterial protein synthesis. In order to do this they bind to the bacterial ribosomes - made up of proteins and RNA. This binding then produces errors in the functioning of the ribosome. The accumulation of errors in the proteins synthesised causes the bacterium to die.
Do they have contraindications or precautions?
Because these substances can be toxic to the ears (ototoxicity) or kidneys (nephrotoxicity) they need to be monitored closely when they are administered. The ototoxicity may be reversible and cause temporary effects on balance or they may cause irreversible deafness. Important point: these antibiotics must not be administered during pregnancyas they carry a high risk of deafness in the newborn baby.
- Merck Manual – 4th edition
- Transparency forms, Anti-infectious medicines in community-acquired diseases, Afssaps, 2004
Some aminoglycosides are used to treat tuberculosis. © Phovoir