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Outsmarting bacteria: Researchers develop faster method to generate new antibiotics

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute have developed a new method to rapidly generate and test novel antibiotic-drug candidates. The technique could provide scientists with a new tool in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

LSI research assistant professor Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova and her colleagues essentially outsmarted bacteria by using the microbes' own defenses against them. The research team reports its findings in the January edition of the journal ChemBioChem.

"We've taken what the bacteria used to kill the antibiotic as a tool to make new antibiotics," said Garneau-Tsodikova, who is also the John G. Searle assistant professor of medicinal chemistry.

Decades of clinical use—and overuse—have made bacteria smarter and trickier to subvert. As a result, many antibiotics are losing their efficacy against bacteria that have built up resistance to them.

"There's currently a huge problem associated with bacterial resistance to antibiotics as bacteria come up with tricks to become resistant to all the drugs that scientists discover," said Garneau-Tsodikova.

Resistance is a problem in the aminoglycoside family of antibiotics, which are commonly used to fight serious bacterial infections and genetic diseases, and as anti-HIV drugs.

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