To fight superbugs, a Harvard chemist invents a new way of making antibiotics
ANTIBIOTICS — THE MIRACLE drugs of the 20th century — are beginning to fail. The latest evidence of this came in May, when a pathogen surfaced in Pennsylvania containing a gene that, if and when it spreads, would create bacteria that are invulnerable to every available drug.
The solution to the looming problem is simple, if hard to implement: First, we need to be far more conservative about how we use antibiotics in order to slow the development of resistance and prolong their usefulness; second, we need to find ways to create new antibiotics that bacteria can’t yet resist.
To that end, last month Harvard chemist Andrew Myers published a study in Nature describing a novel method for creating fully synthetic, designer versions of specific antibiotics — drugs that can be tweaked, maybe endlessly, to outwit the resistance mechanisms that develop in nature.
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- global health