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July 1959


Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

Departments of Medicine, Wadsworth Hospital, Veterans Administration Center, and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;104(1):15-28. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270070017003

Kanamycin was first described by Umezawa et al. in 19571; it is produced by Streptomyces kanamyceticus.

Chemistry  The crystalline sulfate of kanamycin is water-soluble, alcohol-insoluble, and basic. It is a very stable compound with less than 10% loss after autoclaving for one hour at 120 C; it is stable over a pH range of 2 to 11. Cron and his co-workers2 have determined that kanamycin consists of two amino sugars linked glycosidally to 2-deoxystreptamine, with the structural formula shown in Figure 1. This structure resembles that of neomycin and has some similarity to streptomycin.Paper chromatography of kanamycin preparations reveals a second antibiotic, kanamycin B. Kanamycin B exhibited more toxicity than kanamycin A in animal studies 3 and is present to the extent of only 2% to 3% in later preparations of the drug.

Microbiological Studies 

1. Spectrum.  —In vitro, kanamycin is active against a variety of

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