BacPROTACs: antibiotics of the future

Bacterial infections cause hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. While bacterial epidemics are often restricted to low- and middle-income countries, the increasing emergence of antibiotic resistance makes the return of worldwide bacterial pandemics a very likely future and calls for urgent research into new antibiotic compounds. In a study in the journal Cell, scientists in the lab of Tim Clausen at the IMP and their collaborators have developed molecules that can target and degrade bacterial proteins selectively. These protein degraders, called BacPROTACs, can be adapted to target virtually any bacterial protein and could be further developed into an entirely new family of antibiotics.

A pink molecule is attached to a large green and blue enzyme via a small orange molecule. On the other side of the enzyme, small bits of pink come out.
A BacPROTAC in action: the target protein (pink) binds the orange BacPROTAC, is unfolded by the green enzyme and chopped into pieces by the blue enzyme. (Credit: Ester Morreale)

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