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Published on 27 October 2008

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Antibiotic breakthrough hailed

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The discovery of how the antibiotic myxopyronin actually destroys bacteria promises a significant breakthrough in fighting drug resistance, researchers have claimed.

“These studies help show how bacterial RNA polymerase works,” said Tim Townes, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

“The more we know of what these enzymes do at each stage of the process, the better we can design new drugs or improve existing drugs to overcome the growing resistance.”

Professor Dmitry Vassylyev and colleagues at UAB found that myxopyronin binds to and inhibits, RNA polymerase, a crucial bacterial enzyme.

It changes the structure of the switch-2 segment, inhibiting its function of reading and transmitting the DNA code. This prevents RNA polymerase from delivering genetic information needed by the cell ribosomes, causing the bacteria to die.

And that could lead to new strategies to overcome antibiotic resistance, a growing concern in medicine as many bacteria have become resistant to the drugs commonly used to kill them.

Copyright PA Business 2008

University of Alabama at Birmingham



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