Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


Inactive but not inert

Antibiotics can break down through the action of enzymes or through non-enzymatic processes. In the case of tetracycline, this drug 'debris' can have unexpected biological activities, including selection against resistance.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Antibiotic resistance is not neutral.


  1. Wright, G.D. Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev. 57, 1451–1470 (2005).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Yim, G., Wang, H.H. & Davies, J. Int. J. Med. Microbiol. 296, 163–170 (2006).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Palmer, A.C., Angelino, E. & Kishony, R. Nat. Chem. Biol. 6, 105–107 (2010).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Chopra, I. & Roberts, M. Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev. 65, 232–260 (2001).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Frimpter, G.W., Timpanelli, A.E., Eisenmenger, W.J., Stein, H.S. & Ehrlich, L.I. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 184, 111–113 (1963).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Thaker, M., Spanogiannopoulos, P. & Wright, G.D. Cell Mol. Life Sci. published online, doi:10.1007/s00018-009-0172-6 (28 October 2009).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gerard D Wright.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wright, G. Inactive but not inert. Nat Chem Biol 6, 85–86 (2010).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing