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Manufacture Small Molecules

(Anti)Bacterial Factory

Antibiotic resistance has been described as one of the most significant threats facing patient safety. Could E. coli lend a helping hand in the fight? Yes, according to a research team at the University at Buffalo led by Blaine Pfeifer, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering. The team has engineered E. coli to synthesize 42 new forms of the antibiotic erythromycin – three of which have been shown to be effective against bacteria resistant to the version of erythromycin currently used in clinics. And the E. coli factory could be used to produce even more variations. We spoke with Pfeifer to find out more.

How did the work begin?

I was interested in making natural products more accessible by developing alternative production routes. In this case, we were able to produce the antibiotic erythromycin through a heterologous host system and then use the engineering tools of the new platform to produce analogs of the original compound. Production through E. coli provides a maximum operating space that few other production routes can offer.

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About the Author

Stephanie Sutton

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent seven years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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