Wasted effort

DRUG designers may have been barking up the wrong tree in their efforts to design new versions of an antibiotic. They have been looking for antibiotics similar to vancomycin, which is used as a last resort against many life-threatening infections. There are signs that some bacteria have become resistant to the existing drug. Now a team led by Patrick Loll of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia reports evidence from X-ray crystallography studies that two molecules of vancomycin combine to form a dimer in two different ways ( Chemistry & Biology, vol 5, p 293). Loll says drug designers have been developing modified versions of the so-called “back-to-back” dimer. The discovery of a “face-to-face” version, which might be the active one,
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