Chemists at Harvard University have succeeded in synthesizing the antibiotic moenomycin A from scratch. They hope that by providing easier access to this molecule and its variants, they might aid the development of new antibiotics based on its structure.

Moenomycin A inhibits a crucial step in the synthesis of the peptidoglycan material which is used to build bacterial cell walls. It does this by inhibiting transglycosylase enzymes, which are only found in bacteria – this specificity could make it a very useful drug.

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