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Topic last updated: 29 Sep 2021
    • Ico Science Applied Science (applied)
    • Biologybiology Biology
    • 14-16
    • 55

Beating bacteria

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Teacher information

Student teams make decisions on which drug to develop as a new antibiotic treatment for infections. After deciding which compound to progress they look at production and marketing timescales. On-line research into bacteria and antibiotics is an optional activity.


Aims and Objectives:

  • To develop research and data analysis skills
  • To develop decision making skills
  • To learn about the critical factors which contribute to making a good medicine
  • To learn about bacterial infections and their treatment using antibiotics

Higher level:

  • To show how ICT sorting techniques can be used to make sense of large sets of data



Students first need to consider what features are important for a treatment using tablets (oral dosing). Once they have decided which compound to progress they look at production and marketing timescales.

There are two levels for the data analysis activity.

Version 1: The data for 10 compounds is presented in a table and students can sort the compounds "by eye" and decide which one to take forward into clinical trials in patients.

Version 2: The decision making involves data sets from 52 compounds. This is too much data to sort "by eye" and so sorting techniques using Excel spreadsheets are used just as in the pharmaceutical industry. Such computation techniques are often very sophisticated and the sciences of chemoinformatics and bioinformatics have developed to manipulate information on data sets from thousands of compounds.