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New uses for E. coli

The domestication of the microbe continues apace...

Erythromycin A Produced in E. Coli for First Time: Biosynthetic Breakthrough Paves Way for Other Pharmaceuticals
ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2010) — Researchers at Tufts University School of Engineering have reported the first successful production of the antibiotic erythromycin A, and two variations, using E. coli as the production host.

The work, published in the November 24, 2010, issue of Chemistry and Biology, offers a more cost-effective way to make both erythromycin A and new drugs that will combat the growing incidence of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Equally important, the E. coli production platform offers numerous next-generation engineering opportunities for other natural products with complex biosynthetic pathways.

"We have now established E. coli as a viable option for making erythromycin A and as a platform for the directed production of erythromycin analogs. Our ability to fully manipulate erythromycin A's biosynthetic pathway to expand molecular diversity and antibiotic activity help sets a precedent for producing other similarly complex and medicinally relevant natural products," said lead researcher Blaine Pfeifer, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Tufts.