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New shape-shifting antibiotics could fight deadly infections by drug-resistant bacteria and fungi

Apr. 05, 2023.
1 min. read. . 1

New shape-shifting antibiotics "may even be key to our species' survival and evolution”

About the Writer

Amara Angelica

19.66877 MPXR

Senior Editor Amara Angelica, an electrical engineer and inventor, was previously Editor of Kurzweil AI, working with Ray Kurzweil on The Singularity Is Near and other works

Core of new shapeshifting design with two vancomycin “warheads” (credit: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)

In the United States alone, drug-resistant bacteria and fungi infect almost 3 million people per year and kill about 35,000. But overuse of antibiotics has led to some bacteria developing resistance to them, Phys.Org reports.

“Now, Professor John E. Moses at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has created a new weapon against these drug-resistant superbugs — an antibiotic that can shape-shift by rearranging its atoms.

“Moses came up with the idea of shape-shifting antibiotics while observing tanks in military training exercises. With rotating turrets and nimble movements, the tanks could respond quickly to possible threats.

“Using ‘click chemistry,’ Moses and his colleagues created a new antibiotic with two vancomycin ‘warheads’ and a fluctuating bullvalene center.

“They found the shape-shifting antibiotic significantly more effective than vancomycin at clearing a deadly infection. Additionally, the bacteria didn’t develop resistance to the new antibiotic.

“Researchers can use click chemistry with shape-shifting antibiotics to create a multitude of new drugs, Moses explains. Such weapons against infection may even be key to our species’ survival and evolution.”

Citation: Ottonello, A. et al. Shapeshifting bullvalene-linked vancomycin dimers as effective antibiotics against multidrug-resistant gram-positive bacteria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences120(15), e2208737120.

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