Antibiotic found in dirt may not allow bacteria resistance


iStock | Priisk

iStock | Priisk

Scientists have long been fighting the fact that bacteria become resistant to antibiotics over time, and we recently wrote about a new computer-based approach that may let them predict how the bacteria will adapt, allowing for the development of more effective medicines. But bacteria may not be able to develop resistance to a new antibiotic that scientists have found in dirt.

While most antibiotics currently produced are those that will grow in a lab, the newly discovered antibiotic, called Teixobactin, comes from a field in Maine; it grows in the dirt there.

Teixobactin has been performing well in trials, killing MRSA in mice without signs that the bacteria may become resistant to it. It also did so without harming the mice, according to The Washington Post. However, the drug is still a couple of years away from human trials.

The discovery was made by Northeastern University professor Kim Lewis and his colleagues at NovaBiotic Pharmaceuticals. The study, published in Nature, explains a bit more about looking for antibiotics in the dirt, and why naturally growing antibiotics may be the next place to look for the drugs of the future.

“Most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganism, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was overmanned by the 1960s,” wrote the authors of the study. “Synthetic approaches to antibiotics have been unable to replace this platform. Uncultured bacteria make up approximately 99 percent of all species in external environments, and are an untapped source of new antibiotics.”


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