/pol'ee mik"sin/, n. Pharm.any of various polypeptide antibiotics derived from Bacillus polymyxa.[1945-50; < NL polymyx(a) specific epithet ( < Gk poly- POLY- + mýxa mucus, slime) + -IN2]
* * *▪ drugany of five polypeptide antibiotics derived from various species of the soil bacterium Bacillus that are active against gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Polymyxins disrupt the cell membranes of bacteria, destroying their ability to function as osmotic barriers.Only polymyxins B and E are used clinically; the others damage the kidneys. Polymyxin B can also cause kidney damage and therefore can only be applied topically to treat infections such as those of the eye, ear, skin, and urinary bladder. Polymyxin E, also known as colistin, is used frequently for diarrhea in children. The chief therapeutic use of the polymyxins is treating infections of gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to penicillin and other broad-spectrum antibiotics.
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