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A naturally-occurring nitrosurea compound that is used primarily as an antibiotic treatment against certain gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, in treating islet-cell tumors of the pancreas, and in inducing diabetes in research animals


Streptozotocin is a compound derived from Streptomyces achromogenes. The latter is a soil microbe belonging to the Family Streptomycetaceae (Phylum Actinobacteria). The specific strain from where streptozotocin was originally derived is the S. achromogenes var. streptozoticus.1 It was first discovered in 1950s from soil samples taken from Blue Rapids, Kansas by a group of scientists from a pharmaceutical company. Then, they turned it into a drug, particularly as an antibiotic.2 In 1960s and 1970s, streptozotocin was seen as a potential treatment for pancreatic islet cell cancer since it was found to be toxic particularly to the beta cells of the pancreatic islets. Administrating high doses of this drug results in rapid pancreatic beta cell necrosis. In relation to this, the drug has now been used also in inducing diabetes in experimental animals.


  • streptozocin

IUPAC name:

  • 2-Deoxy-2-({[methyl(nitroso)amino]carbonyl}amino)-β-D-glucopyranose

Molecular formula: C8H15N3O7

See also:

1 Bolzán A, Bianchi M (2002). "Genotoxicity of streptozotocin". Mutat Res 512 (2–3): 121–34.
2 Vavra JJ, Deboer C, Dietz A, Hanka LJ, Sokolski WT (1959). "Streptozotocin, a new antibacterial antibiotic".Antibiot Annu 7: 230–5.