Yale Chemists Forge New Path in Search for New Antibiotics; Achieve Elusive Full Synthesis of Pleuromutilin

Yale University scientists have developed a novel chemical process that may lead to the creation of a new class of antibiotics. The discovery comes at a time when more types of bacteria are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics, increasing the occurrence of lethal infections. The ability to create new antibiotics would have significant ramifications for medical treatment and public health, said the researchers. "This is one way to focus our talents as synthetic chemists in a direction that can immediately help patients," said Seth Herzon, PhD, a Chemistry Professor at Yale and member of the Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Herzon is principal investigator of a new study published in the June 2, 2017 issue of Science. The article is titled “A Modular and Enantioselective Synthesis of the Pleuromutilin Antibiotics.” Yale postdoctoral fellow Stephen Murphy, PhD, and Yale graduate student Mingshuo Zeng are co-authors of the study. Both are members of the Herzon Lab. The new process makes it possible to create molecules related to the natural product pleuromutilin from simple commercial chemicals in the laboratory. Pleuromutilin is produced by a fungus and was found to have useful antibacterial properties in the early 1950s.
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