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Novel Antibiotic Fights Hospital Killers

 
  May, 24 2006 7:17
your information resource in human molecular genetics
 
     
In a much-needed blow against rising antibiotic resistance, a team led by Jun Wang report in the 18 May 06 issue of Nature (Vol. 441, No. 7091, pp. 358-361) that it has discovered a potent natural antibiotic that kills many Gram-positive bacteria, including some of the biggest hospital threats: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE).

The researchers screened 250,000 natural product extracts in whole-cell and biochemical assays, and hit upon platensimycin, a small molecule manufactured by a strain of Streptomyces platensis from a South African soil sample.

Platensimycin, which represents a previously unknown class of antibiotics, acts by blocking enzymes involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, the building blocks of lipids. No existing antibiotics target fatty-acid synthesis in this way. The antibiotic clears mice of S. aureus infection and does not appear to cause toxic side effects.

CONTACT

Marjorie Moeling (Director, Merck Research Laboratories Communications & Policy)
E-mail: marjorie_moeling@merck.com

Eric D. Brown (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
E-mail: ebrown@mcmaster.ca

(C) Nature press release.


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