Bacitracin and the polymyxins are polypeptide antibiotics. They are relatively toxic drugs and have had only limited use in chemotherapy until recently. Vancomycin, a glycopeptide, although not without side effects, is widely used. Teicoplanin is a new glycopeptide antibiotic that may be beneficial against certain infections caused by gram-positive organisms. The mechanisms of action of this group vary. Bacitracin and the glycopeptides affect cell wall synthesis, whereas the polymyxins affect the cell membrane. Bacitracin and the glycopeptides are used for the treatment of infections caused by gram-positive bacteria; the polymyxins are used for treating gram-negative infections and are active against Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
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