Dominant Antibiotic Fighting Against Bacterial Strains Discovered In Soil

Dominant Antibiotic Fighting Against Bacterial Strains Discovered In Soil

Experiments suggest the antibiotic family, known as malacidins, can kill several "superbugs", including the notoriously difficult-to-treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The researchers named the new antibiotic Malacidin as a short form of metagenomic acidic lipopeptide antibiotic-cidins. Also, "mal" means bad in Latin, and "cide" means to kill. Malacidin is a distant chemical relative of daptomycin but works differently. But scientists have reason to believe it will hold up at least as well.

Raising hopes of a potent new weapon in the fight against rising antibiotic resistance, scientists have discovered in soil samples a new family of antibiotics that could eventually be used to combat hard-to-treat infections.

In addition to existing drugs becoming less effective, there have only been one or two new antibiotics developed in the last 30 years.

Experts have hailed this new antibiotic from soil the next big thing because, a new antibiotic has not been discovered since 1987. Researchers have not brought forth a truly new antimicrobial medication since 1987.

Sifting through the vast quantity of data, Brady and his fellow researchers were on the hunt for a particular gene closely associated with the production of calcium-dependent antibiotics that attack bacterial cells when calcium is present. They noted that the bacteria, failed to develop resistance to this new agent despite continuous exposure.

As a result, numerous workhorses of the world of antibiotics - members of the penicillin, cephalosporin and carbapenem classes - are losing their ability to fight a lengthening list of bacterial diseases.

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Some 700,000 people die each year from such infections, with global deaths expected to reach 10 million by 2050 due to antibiotics resistance.

A lack of new drugs combined with overprescribing is thought to have driven antibiotic resistance, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 'has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country'.

This is where malacidin becomes most interesting.

Brady's team was looking for genes that code for calcium-dependent antibiotics, a small family of cyclic peptides that require calcium for their activity.

Chemical biologist Sean Brady and his colleagues at Rockefeller University in NY sequenced bacterial DNA extracted from 2,000 soil samples taken from across the United States.

The discovery came from a citizen science project - Drugs from dirt - started by Sean Brady of the Rockefeller University, US. They noted a sample from the desert regions that fitted the bill. When they found what they were after, they cloned the genes, rearranged them and implanted them in a host organism, using fermentation to expand the sample.

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