A new class of antibiotics may emerge from a long-known class of natural compounds
As multidrug resistance to antibiotics increases, the search for new drug candidates becomes more pressing. Carboxyl polyether ionophores (CPIs), also called polyether antibiotics, are a unique class of naturally occurring ionophores. While ionophores (ion transporters) have been highly esteemed and widely used in synthetic chemistry due to their intricate molecular structures, they have been largely eliminated from the study of cellular systems due to unflattering labels like ‘non-specific’ and ‘toxic’. However, CPIs have been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antiviral activity, and tumour cell cytotoxicity in various studies; these characteristics have yet to be exploited. The EU-funded project RECYPION is changing the game, evaluating what is responsible for the antibiotic activity of CPIs, exploring what other activities they may have, and devising a way to synthesise them to harness their innate potential for good.
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