New way to fight drug-resistant bacteria

Aug. 25, 2004 at 10:15 PM
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BOSTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Researchers at Harvard Medical School said they have found a way to produce new antibiotics that can help fight drug-resistant bacteria.

The researchers said they can generate potentially hundreds of variants of antibiotics called aminocoumarins.

The new method exploits bacterial enzymes. It uses an alphabet soup of proteins from Streptomyces bacteria to make an enzyme production line that adds different chemical components to coumermycin A1, a member of the aminocoumarin family.

Aminocoumarins are inhibitors of bacterial enzymes that untwist and unknot DNA. Without these enzymes, bacteria cannot replicate, which is why inhibitors such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin have found widespread use. However, the emergence of resistant bacterial strains has raised worries about reduced effectiveness for these drugs.

By modifying aminocoumarins, the researchers said they hope to develop more effective inhibitors, turning them into more potent antibiotics.

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