In DepthOrganic Chemistry

A modular route to new antibiotics

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Science  20 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6288, pp. 879
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6288.879

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Antibiotics have been taking it on the chin lately. Not only has resistance to the anti-infective medications been growing, but drug companies have been dropping antibiotic research programs, because the drugs are difficult and expensive to make. Now, new help is on the way. Researchers report this week that they've found a way to churn out new members of one of the most widely used classes of antibiotics. These drugs, called macrolides, were first developed in the 1950s and now represent a major bulwark against infections. A bevy of possible new drugs in this class could lead to new weapons against antibiotic-resistant infections, and possibly save millions of lives.