New antibiotic could eliminate the global threat of antibiotic-resistant infections

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered a way to structurally modify the antibiotic called vancomycin to make an already-powerful version of the antibiotic even more potent — an advance that could eliminate the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections for years to come.

“Doctors could use this modified form of vancomycin without fear of resistance emerging,” said Dale Boger, co-chair of TSRI’s Department of Chemistry, whose team announced the finding Monday (May 29, 2016) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Still, Boger cautions that the new compound isn’t yet ready for human trials. Next up, he and his colleagues plan to cut down on the 30 chemical steps it takes to make the new compound, in the hopes of producing it more cheaply. Then they’ll test their drug in animals, and finally humans. If it passes this gauntlet, humanity’s last line of defense against dangerous infections will become considerably stronger.

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