Using genomics, a chemistry lab has worked out the biosynthetic machinery that makes a new class of antibiotic compounds called the beta-lactones. Like the beta-lactams, such as penicillin, they have an unstable four-member ring. The key to their antibiotic activity, it is also difficult to synthesize.
Three antibiotics that, individually, are not effective against a drug-resistant staph infection can kill the deadly pathogen when combined as a trio, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. They have killed the bug — methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — in test tubes and laboratory mice, and believe the same strategy may work in people.