Is natural genetic mutation within a bacteria within an infected host the most likely origin of an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria?

As with all things biological, it depends. Some antibiotics, like rifampicin and chloramphenicol, readily give rise to spontaneous resistance mutations. These drugs target transcription and translation, respectively, and alterations of a single nucleotide in the bacterial genome can confer resistance. Since point mutations like these arise spontaneously at about one per million bacteria, there are Read More …

What are some good books on the founding of biotechs and pharmas?

The most well-known, and one that I can recommend, is “The Billion-Dollar Molecule” by Barry Werth. It describes the founding and early days of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and their efforts to use rational drug design technologies to create a new immunosuppressant drug for transplant patients. Werth does a great job not only of explaining the science, but capturing the Read More …

What are antibiotics made of?

Most antibiotics are based on natural products synthesized by bacteria and fungi. Quinolones (like Cipro) and sulfa drugs (like sulfamethoxazole) are the major exceptions to this rule. Antibiotics belong to a class of natural compounds called secondary metabolites. These are molecules that are not essential to normal growth and metabolism (like sugars, amino acids and nucleic Read More …