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Albicidin, plant toxin, strongest antibiotic emerged, kills harmful bacteria in a unique way


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Scientists say albicidin, a potent plant toxin, which has a unique way of killing harmful bacteria, is one of the strongest antibiotic candidates in decades.

Albicidin is very effective at killing superbugs such as E.coli, which are notorious because they are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

But scientists did not know exactly how it interacted with its target, a bacterial enzyme DNA called gyrase.

Researchers in the UK have exploited advances in a technique called transmission electron microscopy which allows specimens to be examined at temperatures as low as minus 273C.

They found albicidin forms an L shape which allows it to interact with both the gyrase and the DNA in a unique way.

Study author, Dmitry Ghilarov, said: “It seems, by the nature of the interaction, ... it’s hard for bacteria to evolve resistance to that."

The results are published in Nature Catalysis and were carried out at John Innes Centre in Norwich.

The toxins interaction with the bacterial enzyme gyrase could help overcome antibiotic resistance

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Dmitry Ghilarov

Group Leader, Structural biology/Cryo-EM at John Innes Centre

John Innes Centre (JIC)

Independent centre for research and training in plant and microbial science.

Nature Catalysis

Publishes high quality work across all areas of catalysis, including both fundamental and applied studies.