Health & Fit A Potentially Powerful New Antibiotic Is Discovered in Dirt

22:42  14 february  2018
22:42  14 february  2018 Source:   Time

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Extracted from unknown microorganisms living in soil, it kills several superbugs – including the dreaded MRSA – without engendering resistance.

Scientists have discovered a new potentially powerful antibiotic that can kill some – although not all -- of the most dangerous "super bugs Although dirt is filled with germs, scientists until now haven't been able to grow these bacteria in a laboratory – a key requirement for studying and testing them.

a flock of birds sitting on top of a dry grass field © Getty Images

The world is facing an epidemic of infections that no longer respond well to the drugs used to treat them—also known as super bugs. In the United States, an estimated 2 million Americans are diagnosed each year with an infection that doesn’t respond to antibiotics, and 23,000 will die from those infections. But New York and New Jersey researchers published a new paper in the journal Nature Microbiology about their hopeful discovery: a potentially new class of antibiotic that they found in dirt.

In the lab, the researchers used a method to extract, clone and sequence DNA from soil samples to see if there are genes that could produce molecules with antibiotic potential. Using their method to search through hundreds of soil samples, they discovered the new antibiotic class, called malacidins.

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But its discovery is proof of a powerful principle, he said: A world of potentially useful untapped biodiversity is still waiting to be discovered . (This microbe was originally found in the dirt of a New Jersey farm field, though the antibiotic research was conducted using cell cultures.)

But New York and New Jersey researchers published a new paper in the journal Nature Microbiology about their hopeful discovery : a potentially new class of antibiotic that they found in dirt . In the lab, the researchers used a method to extract

The researchers say that based on their research, malacidins may be able to attack and kill many types of super bugs. In early tests in rats infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the researchers found that the molecules were able to sterilize the infection area.

This is not the first time that scientists have discovered antibiotics from the soil, but it has proven difficult for researchers to identify a a bacterial species that could become a drug, as the scientists did here. However, the study of malacidins is still early, and a great deal of research still needs to be done before its potential to become a new drug is fully understood.

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