A New Route to Designer Antibiotics

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Science  15 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5720, pp. 367-368
DOI: 10.1126/science.1111415

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To overcome resistance, antibiotics must be modified regularly, but their complex structures make this a daunting task. In their Perspective, Khosla and Tang discuss how chemical synthesis and biosynthesis can complement each other in this quest for more powerful future antibiotics. They highlight the report by Charest et al ., who have devised a powerful synthetic strategy for assembling novel tetracyclines, an important class of antibiotics that is widely used in humans and animals. Synthetic and biosynthetic approaches allow different parts of the tetracycline molecule to be modified with ease, and by combining the two approaches, these different strengths can be harnessed to find better antibiotics.