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Thursday, May 18th 2006

A New Antibiotic

And when I say new, I actually mean new. Any microbiology course reveals the growing prevalence of antibiotic resistant bugs to its students including MRSA and VRE (and God forbid, for the future, VRSA). It also teaches that despite the plethora of names and labels, most antibiotics work by a set of very similiar, very specific functions. Change one atom here, another there then change the name but the antibiotic still works basically the same as its “first generation” cousin.

One of my lecturers even predicted that the era of antibiotics would come to an end during my practice. Antibiotics simply aren’t, at the time, profitable drugs for companies to develop.

The discovery of platensimycin is exceedingly good news. Its good news for the pharm company working on it as well, Merck (they needed it). It works by a mechanism previously untargeted by antibiotics; it blocks the production of fatty acids unique to bacteria. This is all fine and dandy; potential very powerful antibiotics spring up every once and a while, but the main news around this one is the experiments it has been put through so far which show an incredible effectiveness against MRSA and VRE in mice. You can read about platensimycin here and here.

p.s. I found this without visiting Slashdot.