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The University of Southampton

Advances in research into new antibiotics spotlighted to a wider audience

Published: 29 September 2016
Professor Syma Khalid

Professor Syma Khalid’s research into identifying design principles for the development of new antibiotics to fight bacteria has been highlighted as part of a new publishing initiative designed to appeal to ordinary people who are interested in learning more about the latest scientific discoveries.

Antibiotics have been used to save countless lives from bacterial infections that were once deadly. Unfortunately some of these disease-causing bacteria have now adapted to the antibiotics, making the drugs less effective. As bacterial resistance to antibiotics continues to grow, the development of new antibiotics to successfully fight bacteria is both urgently needed and also extremely challenging.

Spotlights from the Journal of Physical Chemistry is aimed at communicating breakthroughs in academic research in straightforward language to spread the word to non-specialists and encourage science journalists to find out about the work.

In her paper The free energy of small solute permeation through the Escherichia coli outer membrane has a distinctly asymmetric profile, Syma and her colleagues outlined how a range of small molecules interact with the membranes that protect bacterial cells. Using the common Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria responsible for several recent high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness, the authors have performed calculations to estimate the energetic barriers faced by a range of compounds as they pass directly through the protective outer membrane of E. coli.

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