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Microorganisms used for drugs and vaccines production

Microorganisms that are beneficial in Pharmaceutical industry are microbes that are used in this industry for the production of drugs, vaccines, and medical devices.

Broadly, microorganisms that are used in industrial processes including Pharmaceutical industry are called industrial microorganisms.

These can be bacterial, fungal, or viral microorganisms. Their use in the production of Pharmaceutical Products including drugs is called industrial Pharmaceutical microbiology and this is the bedrock of drugs production.

Microorganisms that are useful in Pharmaceutical industry for production of drugs, vaccines, drugs materials and devices are enlisted and discussed in details below

1. Bacterial microorganisms used in Pharmaceutical industry

Bacterial microorganisms cause majority of infectious diseases in the world, yet they are one of the most used microorganisms class in drugs production especially Antibiotics and vaccines.

The bacterial microorganisms are many and they include the following:

  1. Corynebacterium diphtheriae – this is used to produce vaccine called diphtheria toxoid that prevents diphtheria, a serious bacterial infection of the nose and throat that manifests as sore throat, fever, barking cough, swollen lymph nodes and weakness.
  2. Clostridium tetani – This is used to produce Tetanus Toxoid, a vaccine used in the prevention of Tetanus often called lockjaw. Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a bacterial toxin that affects the nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of the jaw and neck muscles.
  3. Bordetella pertussis – This is used to produce whole cell or acellular pertussis vaccine used for the prevention of whooping cough or pertussis.
  4. Haemophilus influenzae – This bacterium is used to produce vaccine used for the prevention of Haemophilus influenzae type b disease in Children.
  5. Streptococcus pneumoniae – This bacterium is used in the production of Pneumococcal vaccines which protects us from pneumococcal disease.
  6. Neisseria meningitidis This is used to produce Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine used against meningococcal disease.
  7. Bacillus anthracis – This is used to produce Anthrax vaccine which works against Anthrax.
  8. Pneumococcal bacteria – This is used in the production of Pneumococcal polysaccharide, a vaccine used against pneumococcal disease. 
  9. Streptomyces noursei – This a bactrium used in the production of Nystatin antibiotics, an antifungal drug used in the treatment of candidiasis of the skin, including esophageal candidiasis and vaginal yeast infection.
  10. Streptomyces pimprei – This is used in the production of Hamycin, a polyene antifungal antibiotic.
  11. Streptomyces griseus  – This a bactrium used to produce streptomycin antibiotics against several bacterial infections.
  12. Bacillus licheniforms – Used to produce Bacitracin, a topical antibiotics for prevention or treatment of different bacterial skin infections.
  13. Streptomyces Venezuelae and S. lavendulae – These bacteria are used to produce Chloramphenicol antibiotics.
  14. Streptomyces aureofaciens – This is used in the production of Tetracyclines and Aureomycin.
  15. Streptomyces rimousus – used to produce Oxytetracycline / Terramycin
  16. Streptomyces erythreus – This bacterium is used to produce an antibacterial drug called Erythromycin.
  17. Bacillus polymyxa – This is used to produce Polymixin
  18. Micromonosopora purpurea – This is used to produce Gentamicin antibacterial drug.
  19. Other important products of Actinomycetes include antitumorals (e.g., doxorubicin and bleomycin), antifungals (e.g., amphotericin B and nystatin), immunosuppressives (e.g., FK-506 and rapamycin), insecticides (e.g., spinosyn A and avermectin B), herbicides (e.g., phosphinotricin)

Fungal microorganisms used in Pharmaceutical industry

  1. Penicillin notatum and chrysogenum – This is used in the production of penicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics respectively having examples of amoxicillin, ampicillin, cloxacillin etc. for penicillin and ceftriaxone, cefixime, Cefuroxime, Cefpodoxime etc for cephalosporin.
  2. Penicillin griseofulvum – This fungus is used to produce griseofulvin, an antifungal drug used in the treatment of different infections of fungal origin especially ringworm.
  3. Aspergillus fumigatus – This used in the production of fumagillin, a drug used in the treatment of variety of microsporidian fungal infection.

Viral microorganisms used in Pharmaceutical industry

Pharmaceutical products used in the prevention of vaccines preventable Viral infectious are all produced using viral microorganisms.

The virus that causes a particular disease is attenuated, or its particle used to prevent its infection and this is what is called vaccine.

Generally, vaccines can be live virus (attenuated), killed virus, virion subunits, viral polypeptides, or viral DNA. As much as their are Viral infectious diseases, so also is the number of vaccines and viral microorganisms available.

In summary, if we have one million viral infections, their would be chances of having one million vaccines from viruses causing it.
Bacteriophages also known as phages are viruses used against bacterial infections.


These are live bacteria or fungi used to replace or prevent lost of normal flora in the body.

While prebiotics tries to encourage normal flora growth, probiotics are live microorganisms in itself.

Examples of organisms used in the formulation of Probiotics include:

  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
  • Saccharomyces boulardii 
  • Lactobacillus.
  • Bifidobacterium.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces boulardii are yeasts while Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are bacteria.

Microorganism Used to produce Medical devices

Microbiology (E. coli) plays an important role in medical devices, such as fluorescence fusion, which are used for the rapid and precise detection of pathogens in tissue samples.

It is a technology to perform immunofluorescence studies that can be applied to find specific cells in complex biological systems.



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