Switching an antibiotic on and off with light

Scientists of the KIT and the University of Kiev have produced an antibiotic, whose biological activity can be controlled with light. Thanks to the robust diarylethene photoswitch, the antimicrobial effect of the peptide mimetic can be applied in a spatially and temporally specific manner. This might open up new options for the treatment of local infections, as side effects are reduced. The researchers present their photoactivable antibiotic with the new photomodule in a “Very Important Paper” of the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.

Caption: First, an inactivated photo-switchable antibiotic was added to a bacterial lawn. Then, a mask was applied and the lawn was exposed to light for the specific activation of the antibiotic. Credit: Photo: Babii et al., Angewandte Chemie, 2014