Chemists Synthesize ‘Game-Changing’ Antibiotic Teixobactin

Chemists in Hong Kong have successfully synthesized the newly-discovered antibiotic drug, teixobactin.

AsianScientist (Nov. 16, 2016) – Working together with collaborators at the University of Central Florida and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, a research team led by Dr. Li Xuechen from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has successfully synthesized teixobactin, a recently discovered ‘game-changing’ antibiotic that can kill a wide range of bacteria seemingly without developing resistance. Their results have been published in Nature Communications.

Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise globally and has become a serious threat to human health. For instance, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has emerged as one of the most important pathogens, both in hospital and community-acquired infections. Although there is an urgent public need for new antibacterial drugs, few pharmaceutical companies are interested in investing in their development, due to low profit margins.

Last year saw the breakthrough discovery of the antibiotic teixobactin from soil bacteria. Teixobactin can kill a range of pathogens including MRSA, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, all without detectable resistance. These positive properties have attracted the attention of the global research community, with more than 15 research groups around the world racing to develop a chemical strategy to synthesize teixobactin.

The HKU team is one of the fastest groups to complete the chemical synthesis of teixobactin. The strategy they developed is very efficient and can generate many teixobactin derivatives in a fast and combinatory manner. In addition, they have also generated ten teixobactin analogues with promising properties and have filed for provisional patents for them in the US.

The team now aims to synthesize more 100 different teixobactin derivatives within two years to search for analogues with improved pharmacological properties for clinical development.

The article can be found at: Jin et al. (2016) Total Synthesis of Teixobactin.


Source: University of Hong Kong.
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