Andy's weekly cafe

As we come to a close on this week, do you have any questions on what is happening in the world of chemistry, including in the area of antibiotics - you may have seen some science news in the media whilst the course has been running, and this is our chance to make sure we can all stay abreast of what’s topical and how it might affect us all going forward.

For example, could antibiotics from ants, called formicamycins, offer a solution to antibiotic resistance? Or perhaps secretions from maggots, microbes found in dirt or platypus milk? In the search for new antibiotics it appears that rigid and flat organic compounds, containing amine groups, are well suited to penetrating the outer membranes of gram-negative bacteria. It is also interesting to see that mother’s milk, made up of a complex and continually changing mix of proteins, fats and sugars, helps protect babies against bacterial infections.

Here at York, my biology colleagues have discovered bacteria are able to “fine-tune” their resistance to antibiotics – raising the possibility of some superbugs being resistant to drugs which they have never even been in contact with. “The experiment has shown that if you stop giving antibiotics, resistance won’t go away. If you keep using the same antibiotics the bacteria will just get better and better by fine-tuning their resistance. And we have also shown if you give the same antibiotic over and over again it could also become resistant to completely different antibiotics which they have never seen before.”

Please pose any questions you have in the Comments below or using our hashtag #FLChemistry (Twitter/Instagram) by noon of Thursday this week. We will then post our short video (to replace the question mark placeholder video), which brings together some of the most interesting topics, on the following day (on Friday this week).

Don’t miss out on the chance to share what’s on your mind!

Also, as an end-of-week teaser, see if you can deduce the names of the medicines in the collage below and post your answers. Why not also practice identifying functional groups and spotting any chiral centres?

Finally, why not download a second digital badge as a momento of completing the second week of our course. Just two more to achieve a full set!

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring Everyday Chemistry

University of York