Deconstructing Vancomycin

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Science  16 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5413, pp. 442-443
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5413.442

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The glycopeptide antibiotic vancomycin is a drug of last resort for treating Gram-positive bacterial infections that do not respond to other antibiotics. But there have been recent reports of multi�drug-resistant bacteria that are even resistant to vancomycin. Ge et al. now report the synthesis of vancomycin analogs that are more powerful than the parent compound in killing both vancomycin-sensitive and vancomycin-resistant Gram-positive bacteria. In a Perspective, Walsh explains how the new analogs kill bacteria by blocking a different step in the pathway of bacterial cell wall synthesis. These findings suggest that simple sugar fragments may form a new class of antibiotics.