News & AnalysisSynthetic Biology

Fluorine-Adding Bacteria May Transform Natural Product Medicines

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Science  06 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6150, pp. 1052-1053
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6150.1052-a

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Fluorine is key to the activity of top-selling small molecule drugs. But it's difficult to add the element to large molecules without destroying their function. Now, researchers led by Michelle Chang at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that they can engineer bacteria to incorporate fluorine into complex compounds, the sorts that make up antibiotics, antifungals, and insecticides.