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.”penguin-science-rover-Le_Maho-research-in-NatureMethods

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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.

The research, which is receiving applause from the scientific community, was published in January in the journal Nature.

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)

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