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'Left-handed iron corkscrews' point the way to new weapon in battle against superbugs like MRSA
Date:11/28/2011

Scientists at the University of Warwick have taken inspiration from corkscrew structures found in nature to develop a new weapon in the fight against infections like E-coli and MRSA.

Researchers have created a new synthetic class of helix-shaped molecules which they believe could be a key tool in the worldwide battle against antibiotic resistance.

By twisting molecules around iron atoms they have created what they term 'flexicates' which are active against MRSA and E-coli - but which also appear to have low toxicity, reducing the potential for side effects if used in treatment.

The work is published in Nature Chemistry.

The new structures harness the phenomenon of 'chirality' or 'handedness' whereby the corkscrew molecules could be left-handed or right-handed.

By making the most effective 'hand' to attack a specific disease, the University of Warwick research paves the way towards a more targeted approach to killing pathogens.

In the case of E-coli and MRSA, it is the left 'hand' which is most effective.

Professor Peter Scott of the University of Warwick's chemistry department said although this particular study concentrated on flexicates' activity against MRSA and E-coli, the new method of assembly could also result in new treatments for other diseases.

"It's a whole new area of chemistry that really opens up the landscape to other practical uses.

"These new molecules are synthetically flexible, which means that with a bit of tweaking they can be put to use against a whole host of different diseases, not just bugs like MRSA which are rapidly developing resistance to traditional antibiotics.

"Flexicates are also easier to make and produce less waste than many current antibiotics."

Scientists have long been able to copy nature's corkscrew-shaped molecules in man-made structures known as helicates but they have thus far not been able to use them in fighting diseases.<
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Contact: Anna Blackaby
a.blackaby@warwick.ac.uk
44-247-657-5910
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert

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