Antibiotic drugs are used to treat bacterial infections such as tuberculosis (TB) or tetanus. They were once grown as moulds (fungi) but are now made artificially.
Penicillin was the first antibiotic drug, discovered in a mould in 1928 by Alexander Fleming (1881-1955).
Analgesic drugs such as aspirin relieve pain, working mainly by stopping the body making prostaglandin, the chemical that sends pain signals to the brain. Today, thousands of different drugs are used to treat illness.
Tranquillizers are drugs that calm. Minor tranquillizers are drugs such as prozac, used to relieve anxiety.
Major tranquilizers are used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
Psychoactive drugs are drugs that change your mood. Many, including heroin, are dangerous and illegal.
Stimulants are drugs that boost the release of the nerve transmitter noradrenaline, making you more lively and awake. They include the caffeine in coffee.
Narcotics, such as morphine, are powerful painkillers that mimic the body’s own natural painkiller, endorphin.
Depressants are drugs such as alcohol which do not depress you, but instead slow down the nervous system.
In future, more drugs may be made by microbes or animals with altered genes. Insulin is already made in the pancreas of pigs.