Development of non-natural flavanones as antimicrobial agents

October 20, 2011

As microbes grow increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics, scientists are looking in new directions for drug development. A new paper, published Oct. 19 in the online journal PLoS ONE, reports the synthesis and testing of a family of potential antimicrobial molecules and finds that their therapeutic effect is comparable to that of many currently used antimicrobial agents.

Most of the compounds showed broad activity against a variety of bacteria and fungi, but were not toxic to , and thus potentially open a new avenue for the development of novel antimicrobial treatments.

The team, led by Professor Mattheos Koffas of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Professor John Panepinto of the University at Buffalo, focused on compounds related to flavonoids, which are molecules naturally found in many plants that have been suggested to have various positive health effects.

Rather than limiting themselves to these existing compounds, however, the researchers synthesized a variety of related molecules to see if they could generate a product with improved .

They found that many of these novel molecules were effective against bacterial species such as the gram-negative E. coli and the gram-positive B. subtilis, as well as the A. fumigatus and C. neoformans. According to lead scientist, Dr. Koffas, "plant polyphenols have been explored heavily for their strong antioxidant properties and very little is known about other health benefits they may have. Our work clearly demonstrates their potential as a vast untapped source of valuable antimicrobial agents."

One particular compound showed especially promising activity and is likely to be the subject of further work toward the development of new antimicrobial treatments. In addition, the investigators are currently generating a much wider array of compounds in order to identify more compounds with even more potent .

Explore further: Computers help chemists fight emerging infections

More information: Fowler ZL, Shah K, Panepinto JC, Jacobs A, Koffas MAG (2011) Development of Non-Natural Flavanones as Antimicrobial Agents. PLoS ONE 6(10):e25681. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025681

Related Stories

Computers help chemists fight emerging infections

August 19, 2007

Computer analysis of existing drugs may be key to fighting new infectious agents and antibiotic-resistant pathogens like deadly tuberculosis strains and staph ‘superbugs.’ Researchers in Canada say the use of such “emergency ...

Bacteria in wasp antennae produce antibiotic cocktails

April 12, 2011

Bacteria that grow in the antennae of wasps help ward off fungal threats by secreting a 'cocktail' of antibiotics explains a scientist at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference in Harrogate.

Garlic doesn’t just repel vampires

August 16, 2011

The folk wisdom that eating garlic fights illness is ancient. In these more modern times, fruit and vegetable extracts that can inhibit the growth of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms are actually being evaluated as ...

Australian mammals take on antibiotic-resistant bugs

September 2, 2011

The Australian wallaby and platypus could turn out to be key weapons in fighting the growing health threat of multidrug-resistant bacteria, a team involving University of Sydney researchers has discovered.

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

New 'self-healing' gel makes electronics more flexible

November 25, 2015

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a first-of-its-kind self-healing gel that repairs and connects electronic circuits, creating opportunities to advance the ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...

Atom-sized craters make a catalyst much more active

November 24, 2015

Bombarding and stretching an important industrial catalyst opens up tiny holes on its surface where atoms can attach and react, greatly increasing its activity as a promoter of chemical reactions, according to a study by ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.