New an­tibi­otic fam­ily dis­cov­ered in dirt

Iran Daily - - Health -

Sci­en­tists in the US have dis­cov­ered a new fam­ily of an­tibi­otics in soil sam­ples. The nat­u­ral com­pounds could be used to com­bat hard-to-treat in­fec­tions, the team at Rock­e­feller Uni­ver­sity hopes, BBC wrote.

Tests show the com­pounds, called malacidins, an­ni­hi­late sev­eral bac­te­rial dis­eases that have be­come re­sis­tant to most ex­ist­ing an­tibi­otics, in­clud­ing the su­per­bug MRSA.

Ex­perts say the work, pub­lished in Na­ture Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy, of­fers fresh hope in the an­tibi­otics arms race.

Drug-re­sis­tant dis­eases are one of the big­gest threats to global health.

They kill around 700,000 peo­ple a year, and new treat­ments are ur­gently needed.

Drugs from dirt

Soil is teem­ing with mil­lions of dif­fer­ent micro­organ­isms that pro­duce lots of po­ten­tially ther­a­peu­tic com­pounds, in­clud­ing new an­tibi­otics.

Dr. Sean Brady’s team at New York’s Rock­e­feller Uni­ver­sity has been busy un­earthing them.

They used a gene se­quenc­ing tech­nique to anal­y­ses more than 1,000 soil sam­ples taken from across the US.

When they dis­cov­ered malacidins in many of the sam­ples, they had a hunch it was an im­por­tant find.

They tested the com­pound on rats that they had given MRSA and it elim­i­nated the in­fec­tion in skin wounds.

The re­searchers are now work­ing to im­prove the drug’s ef­fec­tive­ness in the hope that it can be de­vel­oped into a real treat­ment for peo­ple.

Brady said, “It is im­pos­si­ble to say when, or even if, an early stage an­tibi­otic dis­cov­ery like the malacidins will pro­ceed to the clinic.

“It is a long, ar­du­ous road from the ini­tial dis­cov­ery of an an­tibi­otic to a clin­i­cally used en­tity.”

Prof. Colin Garner, from An­tibi­otic Re­search UK, said, “Find­ing new an­tibi­otics to treat gram­pos­i­tive in­fec­tions like MRSA was good news, but would not ad­dress the most press­ing need.

“Our con­cern are the so called gram-neg­a­tive bac­te­ria which are dif­fi­cult to treat and where re­sis­tance is on the in­crease.

“Gram-neg­a­tive bac­te­ria cause pneu­mo­nia, blood and uri­nary tract in­fec­tions as skin in­fec­tions. We need new an­tibi­otics to treat this class.”

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