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Beta-lactam

Beta-lactam in a heteroatomic ring structure, consisting of three carbon atoms and one nitrogen atom (Fig. 1). The beta-lactam ring is part of several antibiotics, such as penicillin, which are therefore also called beta-lactam antibiotics. These antibiotics work by inhibiting the bacterial cell wall synthesis. This has a lethal effect on bacteria, especially on Gram-positive ones. Bacteria can become resistant against beta-lactam antibiotics by expressing beta-lactamase.


Figure 1: Penicillin-G. Beta-lactam ring marked blue.



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