Scientist from UK have pioneered a new way to fight against powerful super bugs by altering the molecular structure of antibiotics.
Under the leadership of Dr Jason Micklefield in collaboration with geneticist Professor Colin Smith from The University of Manchester, using funding from the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC),
Scientists working in The School of Chemistry and the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre have pioneered ways for the development of new types of antibiotics capable of fighting increasingly resistant bacteria.
In 2002, Micklefield, Smith and colleagues were the first to engineer the biosynthesis of lipopeptide antibiotics of this class.
Now, they have developed methodologies for modifying the structure of these antibiotics, such as mutating, adding and deleting components.
This innovation has provided access to thousands of lipopeptide variants that cannot be produced easily in any other way.
"The results from this work are essential in the development of the next generation of lipopeptide antibiotics, which are critical to combat emerging super bugs that have acquired resistance to other antibiotics," said, Dr Micklefield
He added: "The potent activity of this class of antibiotics against pathogens that are resistant to all current antibiotic treatments makes them one of the most important groups of antibiotics available.
"Our work relies on interdisciplinary chemical-biology, spanning chemistry through to molecular genetics. It follows the tradition of pioneering work in natural product biosynthesis and engineering that has come out of the UK."
Manchester scientists have been doing work on calcium dependant antibiotics (CDA), belonging to the same family of acidic lipopeptides as daptomycin.
In 2003, daptomycin became the first new structural class of natural antibiotic to reach hospitals in more than 30 years.
However, researchers claimed that there is already evidence that bacteria are evolving and becoming resistant to daptomycin - leading to the emergence of dangerous new super bugs.
"If we are to successfully fight and control potent new super bugs in the future, we need to be developing the next generation of antibiotics now.," said Dr Micklefield.
The study will be appearing in next issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.