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Overcoming antibiotic resistance

NSF Award:

Biosynthetic Engineering Approaches towards Generating New Tetracycline Antibiotics  (University of California-Los Angeles)

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Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. However, nature may hold an important key to overcoming this issue. In an act of self-preservation, various microbes produce protective molecules. Historically, humans have harvested these molecules and transformed them into drugs. Full understanding of the mechanisms involved in creating these molecules has eluded researchers until recently.

Yi Tang's research group at the University of California, Los Angeles, has shown how naturally occurring microbes synthesize tetracycline, a well-known front line antibiotic. They have also developed methods to manipulate these enzymatic factories to create new antibiotics.

By elucidating nature's blueprint for tetracycline production, the Tang group can systematically produce variants that are more potent, and more importantly, can overcome antibiotic resistance. This research increases our understanding of antibiotic biosynthesis and enhances our ability to fight infections.



  • learning how microbes synthesize tetracycline may allow researchers to discover new antibiotics
Three tetracycline pathways (A) and the final step in oxytetracycline biosynthesis (B).
Peng Wang, UCLA

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