The function of the enzyme beta lactamase is to break through the chemical composition of antibiotic cells and thus prevent antibiotics from destroying harmful bacteria. Beta lactamase is produced by certain bacteria known as BLPB or beta lactamase-producing bacteria. Beta lactamase-resistant antibiotics are among the most-prescribed antibiotic agents.
Beta lactam antibiotics are so named because they contain a beta lactam ring in their chemical structure. Beta lactamase breaks the bonds of the beta lactam ring, rendering the antibiotic ineffective. It therefore protects not only the bacteria that produced it, but surrounding bacteria from the negative effects of the antibiotics. Beta lactamase is produced by both anaerobic bacteria and gram-negative bacteria.
Studies have shown that beta lactamase begins production once antibiotic therapy commences. Repeated treatment with BLPB-resistant antibiotics causes increasing resistance, and a non-beta lactam antibiotic must be used so that beta lactamase has no effect on the antibiotic's effectiveness. It is important that the correct antibiotic be used for the medical situation.
Bacterial resistance to beta lactam antibiotics is increasing. Combining a beta lactamase inhibitor with a beta lactam antibiotic has proven more effective than either alone. Beta lactam antibiotics have not been shown to be particularly effective in the treatment of urinary tract infections, skin infections, bronchitis and soft-tissue infections.