I recently attended a lecture titled "Design of Antibiotics that Target Biotin Metabolism." It was presented by Dr. Courtney Aldrich. Dr. Aldrich is from the University of Minnesota on the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. Dr. Aldrich works in research on antibiotics. He mentioned that the first introduction of antibiotics occurred in 1935. Then from 1945-1960 there was what was considered the "golden age" of antibiotics. This was the time that most of the antibiotics that we have today were created. Since then there has been a severe drought in the synthesis of new antibiotics. Dr Aldrich explained that there are two ways to synthesize antibiotics. The one way was used to create basically all the antibiotics we use is called unbiased-phenotypic whole-cell screening, and then there is another way called biased-target based rationale design. He is currently exploring this other avenue. Dr. Aldrich's research is looking at cofactor biosynthesis as drug targets. Biotin is a common cofactor, involved in lipid biosynthesis, which is important for bacteria to develop a cell wall. His research is working on developing a new antibiotic for Tuberculosis with this other avenue. Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death from bacterial infections. He mentioned that an important part of this target based research is that the target must be validated. This was around the time in the lecture that Dr. Aldrich really started going over my head. He mentioned that they have been trying to treat mice with tuberculosis. He talked a lot about a Bio A. He mentioned some strategies to design inhibitors. He talked about a mechanism based inhibitor that they tried to keep from aromatizing. He also referred to a warhead. At this point in the lecture I just started writing down words that I recognized from class. These included, cis and trans, cyclohexane, Diels-Alder, alkyne, and diastereomer.
Dr. Aldrich is obviously a very brilliant chemist and it sounds like he will hopefully be successful in his research. My only complaint with the lecture is that I wish he had dumbed it down a bit.