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Org Biomol Chem. 2003 Aug 21;1(16):2840-7.

Direct production of ivermectin-like drugs after domain exchange in the avermectin polyketide synthase of Streptomyces avermitilis ATCC31272.

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Biotica Technology Limited, 181A Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, UK CB3 0DJ.


Ivermectin, a mixture of 22,23-dihydroavermectin B1a9 with minor amounts of 22,23-dihydroavermectin B1b 10, is one of the most successful veterinary antiparasitic drugs ever produced. In humans, ivermectin has been used for the treatment of African river blindness (onchocerciasis) resulting in an encouraging decrease in the prevalence of skin and eye diseases linked to this infection. The components of ivermectin are currently synthesized by chemical hydrogenation of a specific double bond at C22-C23 in the polyketide macrolides avermectins B1a 5 and B1b 6, broad-spectrum antiparasitic agents isolated from the soil bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis. We describe here the production of such compounds (22,23-dihydroavermectins B1a 9 and A1a 11) by direct fermentation of a recombinant strain of S. avermitilis containing an appropriately-engineered polyketide synthase (PKS). This suggests the feasibility of a direct biological route to this valuable drug.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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