How Stanford chemists are modifying antibiotics to fight MRSA

Chemists at Stanford (Calif.) University have modified a common antibiotic to make it more effective at fighting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society

A small molecular attachment that helps conventional antibiotics penetrate and destroy their targets could be the key to help fight the dangerous infection, the researchers said.

The attachment, called r8, helps guide antibiotics through a bacterium's outer defenses and encourages them to stay there, which could help fight MRSA bacteria, said co-lead study author Alexandra Antonoplis, a PhD candidate at Stanford.

Experiments revealed adding r8 to vancomycin, a first-line defense against MRSA, made the new drug significantly more effective. The researchers say this tactic could apply beyond MRSA to other drugs and infections.

"You don't have to invent a new drug. You just have to fix the problems with existing drugs," said study author Paul Wender, PhD.

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