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ACS Synth Biol. 2013 Jul 19;2(7):358-72. doi: 10.1021/sb300101g. Epub 2012 Dec 4.

Synthetic biology of antimicrobial discovery.

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Synthetic Biology Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States.


Antibiotic discovery has a storied history. From the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming to the relentless quest for antibiotics by Selman Waksman, the stories have become like folklore used to inspire future generations of scientists. However, recent discovery pipelines have run dry at a time when multidrug-resistant pathogens are on the rise. Nature has proven to be a valuable reservoir of antimicrobial agents, which are primarily produced by modularized biochemical pathways. Such modularization is well suited to remodeling by an interdisciplinary approach that spans science and engineering. Herein, we discuss the biological engineering of small molecules, peptides, and non-traditional antimicrobials and provide an overview of the growing applicability of synthetic biology to antimicrobials discovery.

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