To solve the problem of ever-increasing drug-resistant bugs, Boston scientists have discovered not only a new antibiotic, but a novel way to search through the Earth's soil to find many more.
A serious threat to global public health is the increasing resistance to current drugs by the bacteria and viruses that cause infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and malaria. Now comes good news from scientists in Boston trying to find new, more effective, antibiotics to kill pathogens.
A newly discovered antibiotic, Teixobactin, is being hailed as a paradigm shift, not only because researchers could detect no resistance—a finding that challenges long-held scientific beliefs—but also because of the way it was discovered.
“Scientists have always believed that the soil was teeming with new and potent antibiotics because bacteria have developed novel ways to fight off other microbes,” reports the Telegram. “But 99 percent of microbes will not grow in laboratory conditions leaving researchers frustrated that they could not get to the life-saving natural drugs.”
Now, scientists at Boston’s Northeastern University are using an electronic chip to grow the microbes in their native soil, and with the improved access, to isolate their antibiotic chemical compounds. The team has since discovered 25 new antibiotics, of which teixobactin is the latest and most interesting, according Professor Kim Lewis.
Lewis, who is the paper’s lead author, said this marks the first discovery of an antibiotic to which resistance by mutations of pathogens have not been identified, though it remains to be seen whether other mechanisms for resistance against teixobactin exist in the environment.
“Our impression is that nature produced a compound that evolved to be free of resistance,” Lewis said. “This challenges the dogma that we’ve operated under that bacteria will always develop resistance. Well, maybe not in this case.”
(READ the story from the UK’s Telegraph)
Photo credit: the global panorama (CC license)