Solution To Drug-Resistant Bacteria May Lie In Soil
14 February, 2018, 20:52
After infecting rats with MRSA, a bacteria that's particularly resistant to most antibiotic treatments, the researchers treated the rodents with malacidins, and the compound eliminated the infection in the animals' skin wounds.
They also knew that trying to culture all their soil samples in a lab would take forever, and that most would not replicate themselves under lab conditions anyway.
Soil is thought to be a good source of antibiotics as its low-nutrient content forces different bacteria species to fight against each other for survival, making them "stronger". We like this feature because it means the antibiotic is not "on" all the time, ' says Brady.
Research revealed in the journal Nature Microbiology describes about an antibiotic agent that it has never ever been previously observed and comprises an ability of vanquishing major strains of bacteria thoroughly that resist multiple drugs. The team analyzed more than 1,000 unique soil samples to better understand how these peptide compounds are produced and how to exploit them for fighting bacteria.
Ever since the mid-1940s, after penicillin was discovered by microbiologist Alexander Fleming and rushed into development, the introduction of new antibiotics has quickly given rise to disease-causing bacteria capable of eluding their effects. They had speculated that this novel use of calcium was the key to the longevity of these antibiotics.
Amid growing resistance of infections to existing drugs, researchers reported this week the discovery of a new class of antibiotic extracted from unknown microorganisms living in the soil. They hypothesized that the genes responsible for this "calcium-dependent motif" might be found in other compounds.
When they found what they were looking for in a particular sample of desert soil, they captured and cloned the relevant genes, rearranged and inserted them into a host organism, and expanded the resulting sample through fermentation.
"We put that collection of genes into Streptomyces, and that bug now gains the ability to make the new molecules, which are the malacidins", Brady said. In addition, Brady and his colleagues were unable to induce resistance to the malacidins.
Brady is quick to note that research into malacidins is in its very early stages, and development of the molecules into an antibiotic with clinical applications is a long way off. At present the team is working towards making synthetic versions of Malacidin or finding its analogs in nature for mass production. "I think this platform gives us some hope that we can go back to this tremendously powerful reservoir we used to look at in the past, and look at it in new ways and find new things", he said.
Around 700,000 people a year are known to die from drug-resistant superbugs, which have evolved since the last family of antibiotics was developed in the 1980s.
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