New antibiotics pack a punch

24.09.36: THE NEW generation of antibiotics cling to their targets with all the guile of a boxer - until they are beaten.

Peptide antibiotics work by using electricity. "Unlike the cells in our bodies, bacteria are strongly negatively charged," says Professor Pierre Laplace of the European Pathogen Unit. "This attracts the peptides to them. Then, since the inside has a higher charge, the peptide is pulled in, puncturing the cell wall."

No mutations have yet emerged to counter the drugs. Some patients did develop side-effects, but they can be divided into three genetic types and the drugs can be tailored for them. JB