Researchers and healthcare specialists often study bout the resistance to antibiotics, as they search for substitute answers for treatments and cures of various antibiotic-reliant diseases. One such team of researchers may have discovered a new cure.
Having deconstructed the crystal structure of the enzyme that makes obafluorin – a wide-antibiotic agent that comes from a strain of soil bacteria – the team has found what could be our upcoming generation of antibiotics.
Led by a team of scientists from the Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Buffalo, the discoveries were published on July 31st, in Nature Communications.
The Quest for Uncontaminated Antibiotics
“In the long term, we truly need new structural classes of antibiotics that have never been sullied by clinical resistance from established antibiotics classes,” said Timothy Wencewicz, assistant professor of Chemistry in Arts and Sciences.
Wencewicz proceeded: “Obafluorin has a novel structure compared to all FDA-approved antibiotics.”
What the group has found could be used as the next phase of antibiotics. This is frantically required as an ever-increasing number of individuals are developing immunity to current antibiotics, for the most part, from overuse throughout the years.
Nature as the Primary Provider
Obafluorin, specifically, comes from a fluorescent strain of soil bacteria, which creates a biofilm on the roots of plants. The enzyme, nonribosomal peptide synthetase, with its highly reactive beta-lactone ring, is what’s responsible for obafluorin’s antimicrobial structure.
First discovered in 1984, it wasn’t until 2017 that Wenecewicz figured out the genetic blueprint of the enzyme. His findings allow a beta-lactone forming enzyme (obafluorin) which is available in nature to be produced from scratch in a laboratory for the first time.
On account of this new research however, it is now easier and quicker to create analogs of the natural product in a lab environment.
For Wencewicz, the research isn’t finished at this point, as he stated: “Given the structural diversity of known beta-lactone natural products, we believe that novel beta-lactone synthases remain to be discovered.”