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Changing the Terms of Antibiotic Discovery

October 14, 2013 | The rapid proliferation of drug resistance is demanding new approaches from drug developers trying to keep pace with pathogen evolution. Traditionally, researchers searching for new antibiotics have applied prospective compounds to bacteria living in ideal, nutrient-rich conditions in the lab, seeking to block bacterial growth even in these microbial paradises. Now, Eric Brown and a team from McMaster University are suggesting that those goalposts could be shifted to take into account the relatively nutrient-poor conditions in the human body. By targeting the pathways through which bacteria convert raw materials into crucial vitamins and amino acids, Brown's team hopes to cut off pathogens from these lifelines, ignoring the more stringent demands of killing bacteria when resources are plentiful. Early in vitro experiments with E. coli have revealed three promising antibacterial compounds that inhibit the glycine, p-aminobenzoic, and biotin pathways, respectively. Nature Chemical Biology

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