Sunday, January 11, 2015
Sunday Science Blog
Northeastern researchers discover new antibiotic in a Maine soil sample
From a soil sample harvested in a grassy meadow in Maine, a team led by a Northeastern University researcher has discovered a completely novel antibiotic. The new antibiotic, teixobactin, kills an array of pathogens, and in early laboratory tests bacteria did not develop resistance to the drug.
Outside researchers said that the most exciting thing about the new finding, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, was the possibility that researchers might now efficiently scour ordinary soil samples and other sources of bacteria in the search for leads in developing new antibiotics. This will be a powerful tool for scientists and doctors who are running out of options in an ever-escalating arms race against “superbugs” that rapidly develop resistance to existing therapies.
“There’s maybe, potentially, two orders of magnitude or 100 times as many classes of antibiotics that we haven’t discovered yet,” said Dr. Michael Kurilla, director of the office of biodefense, research resources, and translational research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was not involved in the study.
“This is where everything has to start, and this is as promising and exciting as we’ve seen in awhile.”
From a Pile of Dirt, Researchers Discover New AntibioticA new microfluidic device lets scientists identify a powerful drug from nature.
A plastic storage crate filled with backyard dirt might have yielded the most powerful antibiotic discovered in decades. Employing a novel microfluidic device to grow soil bacteria, researchers in Boston and Bonn, Germany, say they have identified a new type of antibiotic that kills the bacteria that cause pneumonia, staph, and blood infections.
The antibiotic, named teixobactin, has yet to be tested in people. But it cured mice of these infections, and it is so different from current antibiotics that the scientists, who reported their findings today in the journal Nature, said they hoped germs might never become resistant to it.
Others said resistance to any antibiotic is inevitable, but they called the discovery important nonetheless. “It brings back the notion that there are lots of unanticipated surprises still lurking in the soil,” says Gerald Fink, a microbiologist at the Whitehead Institute, part of MIT.