Antibiotic Breakthrough Applying Shapeshifting Chemistry Gets Awarded 2022 Nobel Prize


A groundbreaking new study has revealed the potential of revolutionary shape-shifting antibiotics to combat the alarming rise of medically-resistant bacterial infections, which claim the lives of over 1.2 million individuals worldwide each year. This remarkable discovery utilizes a cutting-edge technique known as “click” chemistry, which earned its pioneers the prestigious Nobel Prize in 2022.

The mastermind behind this groundbreaking antibiotic is none other than Professor John Moses, based at the esteemed Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York. Professor Moses has ingeniously harnessed the power of atom rearrangement to create a truly transformative drug. By incorporating a fluxional hydrocarbon molecule called bullvalene at the molecular core of the antibiotic, the drug gains the remarkable ability to alter its shape on demand.

Bullvalene is an extraordinary hydrocarbon molecule that exhibits a phenomenon known as fluxionality. This property allows its constituent atoms to dynamically switch positions, resulting in an astonishing array of approximately one million different combinations. Professor Moses recognized that by incorporating bullvalene into the molecular structure of an antibiotic, the drug itself could acquire the ability to undergo shape-shifting transformations.

The urgent need for such innovative antibiotics arises from the relentless evolution of bacterial infections, notably Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA). This particular strain has developed resistance to the highly potent antibiotic vancomycin, which has long been regarded as a key treatment option for a range of ailments, from common skin infections to life-threatening meningitis.

With the introduction of shape-shifting antibiotics, however, a new weapon emerges in the fight against these formidable bacterial foes. The ability of the drug to dynamically adapt its structure grants it a significant advantage in overcoming resistance mechanisms developed by the bacteria. By morphing into various configurations, the antibiotic can effectively target and neutralize the pathogens that would otherwise evade conventional treatment methods.

The potential implications of this breakthrough are profound. Not only could it provide a much-needed lifeline for patients suffering from drug-resistant bacterial infections, but it also opens up exciting avenues for the development of next-generation antibiotics. The use of click chemistry and shape-shifting capabilities may revolutionize the field of antimicrobial therapy, paving the way for a new era in the battle against infectious diseases.

The groundbreaking research conducted by Professor Moses and his team at CSHL represents a significant leap forward in the ongoing fight against medically-resistant bacterial infections. As the global threat posed by these infections continues to escalate, the development of shape-shifting antibiotics offers renewed hope and a tangible solution to save countless lives worldwide.

“The reengineering of clinically approved antibiotics to evade resistance mechanisms offers a potential near-to short-term solution that takes advantage of established supply chains and clinical success,” Moses and his co-authors had mentioned in their demonstration paper in PNAS. 

Dr. Moses utilized cutting-edge click chemistry, a reliable method for joining molecules together, to merge bullvalene and vancomycin.

Professor Moses successfully developed a novel antibiotic by incorporating two vancomycin “warheads” and a dynamic bullvalene core. This groundbreaking drug was then administered to wax moth larvae infected with VRSA, a commonly used model for testing antibiotics.

The shape-shifting nature of the antibiotic proved to be remarkably more potent than vancomycin in eradicating the lethal infection. Furthermore, the bacteria displayed no resistance towards this drug.

Dr. Moses is a firm believer that click chemistry will be able to come up with a variety of new shape-shifting drugs “key to our species’ survival.”

“It gives you certainty and the best chance you’ve got of making complex things,” Moses had explained. “If we can invent molecules that mean the difference between life and death. That’d be the greatest achievement ever.”