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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2003 Jun;61(5-6):385-92. Epub 2003 Apr 3.

Industrial production of beta-lactam antibiotics.

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Biotechnology Consultant, 318 Gravilla Street, La Jolla, CA 92037-6006, USA.


The industrial production of beta-lactam antibiotics by fermentation over the past 50 years is one of the outstanding examples of biotechnology. Today, the beta-lactam antibiotics, particularly penicillins and cephalosporins, represent the world's major biotechnology products with worldwide dosage form sales of approximately 15 billion US dollars or approximately 65% of the total world market for antibiotics. Over the past five decades, major improvements in the productivity of the producer organisms, Penicillium chrysogenum and Acremonium chrysogenum (syn. Cephalosporium acremonium) and improved fermentation technology have culminated in enhanced productivity and substantial cost reduction. Major fermentation producers are now estimated to record harvest titers of 40-50 g/l for penicillin and 20-25 g/l for cephalosporin C. Recovery yields for penicillin G or penicillin V are now >90%. Chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis process technology for 6-aminopenicillanic acid or 7-aminocephalosporanic acid is also highly efficient (approximately 80-90%) with new enzyme technology leading to major cost reductions over the past decade. Europe remains the dominant manufacturing area for both penicillins and cephalosporins. However, due to ever increasing labor, energy and raw material costs, more bulk manufacturing is moving to the Far East, with China, Korea and India becoming major production countries with dosage form filling becoming more dominant in Puerto Rico and in Ireland.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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