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Activity 1.2.

1 Antibiotic Therapy
Introduction
Specific antibiotics are effective at preventing the growth of certain strains of
bacteria. The effectiveness of antibiotics is dependent on the mechanism of action of
the drug and the structure of the bacteria. For example, certain antibiotics are
effective against Gram negative bacteria; whereas, other antibiotics are effective
against Gram positive bacteria. Now that Sue Smith has been diagnosed with a
Neisseria menigitidis bacterial infection, her doctor needs to prescribe the correct
antibiotic to treat her infection and save her life.
In this activity, you will review bacterial structure, investigate various types of
antibiotics and their mode of action against the bacteria they target, and suggest an
antibiotic treatment for Sue Smith.

Equipment

Computer with Internet access


Laboratory journal
Colored pencils

Procedure
1. Review the structure of a bacterial cell. Use the Cells Alive Bacterial Cell
Structure website found at:
http://www.cellsalive.com/cells/bactcell.htm#surface as well as other reliable
sites for information.
2. Draw and label a diagram of a bacterial cell in your laboratory journal. Note that if
you have your bacterial diagram that you completed in PBS, review the diagram
and skip to Step 4. If you do not have the diagram already, use colored pencils to
enhance your diagram. Include the following cellular parts:
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o

Nucleoid
Plasmid
Ribosomes
Cell wall
Plasma membrane (cell membrane)
Capsule
Flagella
Pili
Endotoxins

3. Create text boxes containing a description of the function for each labeled
component on the drawing.
4. Research the difference in cell wall structure between a Gram positive and Gram
negative bacteria. Take notes in your laboratory journal.

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Medical Interventions Activity 1.2.1 Antibiotic Therapy Page 1

5. Brainstorm with your partner ideas of how antibiotics work to kill bacterial cells
without harming the surrounding human cells. Record your ideas in your
laboratory journal.
6. Work with your partner(s) to research how the following classes of antibiotics
affect and destroy bacteria:
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o
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Penicillins (also called -Lactam antibiotics)


Tetracyclines
Fluoroquinolones
Sulfa antibiotics (Sulfonamids)

7. For each class of antibiotic, indicate where and how the antibiotic affects the
bacterial cell on your bacterial cell diagram.
8. Research the structure of Neisseria menigitidis bacteria. Take notes in your
laboratory journal. Determine if it is a Gram positive or Gram negative bacteria.
9. Answer the Conclusion questions.

Conclusion
1 What cellular components do some bacterial cells have that make them powerful
pathogens? Explain your answer.

2 Why are penicillins often more effective against Gram positive bacteria than
Gram negative bacteria?

3 Why is it important to understand the structure of a bacterial cell when


developing an antibiotic?

4 How do antibiotics work without harming the surrounding human cells?

2010 Project Lead The Way, Inc.


Medical Interventions Activity 1.2.1 Antibiotic Therapy Page 2

10. What class of antibiotics would you prescribe for Sue? Explain your answer.

11. Why are antibiotics NOT effective against viruses? (Think back to what you
learned about viruses in PBS.)

2010 Project Lead The Way, Inc.


Medical Interventions Activity 1.2.1 Antibiotic Therapy Page 3