New class of antibiotics
Scientists developed a novel chemical process that may lead to the creation of a new class of antibiotics.
The discovery comes at a time when more types of bacteria are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics, increasing the occurrence of lethal infections.
The ability to create new antibiotics would have significant ramifications for medical treatment and public health.
Seth Herzon, a chemistry professor at Yale, said, this is one way to focus our talents as synthetic chemists in a direction that can immediately help patients.
The new process makes it possible to create molecules related to the natural product pleuromutilin from simple commercial chemicals in the laboratory.
Pleuromutilin is produced by a fungus and was found to have useful antibacterial properties in the early 1950s.
Since then, scientists in academia and the pharmaceutical industry have created thousands of pleuromutilin derivatives by a process known as semisynthesis, which involves chemically modifying pleuromutilin itself.
However, a large proportion of these derivatives only vary at a single position in the molecule. A practical full synthesis, which would make a wealth of additional antibiotics possible, has remained elusive.
Herzon and his team discovered an isomer of pleuromutilin, a compound that has the same connectivity, but with a different arrangement of atoms and rearrange it in the final steps of the synthesis to pleuromutilin.
Moreover, these isomers have better antibacterial properties than pleuromutilin itself, opening the door to the preparation of improved compounds.
Herzon said, making pleuromutilin is great, but we are more interested in the non-natural compounds we can access through synthesis.
More information: [Science]