The increasing need for new antibiotics to combat multidrug-resistant bacteria has led chemists to develop the first method for synthesizing a potentially valuable antibiotic that has been sidelined from clinical use for 40 years.
Harvard University's Daniel E. Kahne and colleagues report the first total synthesis of the antibiotic, moenomycin A, in an article in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.
Kahne points out that moenomycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic with unusual promise. It has strong antibacterial activity against a large group of bacteria that cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections, gastritis, stomach ulcers, food poisoning and other disorders. Moenomycin also kills bacteria in an unusual way; it binds directly to enzymes that bacteria need to form a cell wall.
Although used as a growth promoter in animals, moenomycin has never been developed for medical use in humans because it is poorly absorbed into the body.
Discovery of a method to synthesize moenomycin is important because it will allow scientists to better understand the antibiotic and make variants of the natural antibiotic that may be suitable for medical use.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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