Scientists Unearth Hope for New Antibiotics

Nice to see some positive information on the antibiotic front

  • In a bag of backyard dirt, scientists have discovered a powerful new group of antibiotics they say can wipe out many infections in lab and animal tests, including some microbes that are resistant to most traditional antibiotics (I always knew playing in the dirt was good)
  • Researchers at Rockefeller University reported the discovery of the new antibiotics, called malacidins
  • latest in a series of promising antibiotics found through innovative genetic sequencing techniques
  • extract DNA directly out of soil samples and put it into a bug we can grow easily in the laboratory and see if it can make new molecules—the basis of new antibiotics
  •  new compounds appear to interfere with the ability of infectious bacteria to build cell walls
  • the new compounds also appear safe and effective in mice, but there are no plans yet to submit it for human testing
  • In the quest for new antibiotics, researchers are deploying advanced genomics, synthetic-biology tools, and a variety of other innovative ways to explore a vast natural reservoir of bacteria notoriously difficult to isolate and study—the so-called “dark matter” of microbiology
  •  In a soil sample from Italy, researchers at Rutgers University last June unearthed a powerful new antibiotic called pseudouridimycin
  • At Northeastern University researched have screened thousands of bacteria strains using a portable device he invented called the iChip that allows bio-prospectors to isolate and grow finicky micro-organisms
  • To broaden search for new therapeutic compounds researchers from Rockefeller Univ colleagues set up an online citizen science project called “Drugs from Dirt” that solicits soil donations from around the world
  • Tests show the compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA
  • Soil is teeming with millions of different micro-organisms
  • “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic

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