Friday, January 9, 2015

Newly discovered antibiotic may combat drug-resistant bacteria.

Newly discovered antibiotic may combat drug-resistant bacteria.

The discovery of a new antibiotic that could potentially aid in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria was covered on one of last night's national news broadcasts, by major US newspapers, and by several online sources. Most sources touted the potential impact of the antibiotic, but pointed out that it has not yet been tested in humans. The CBS Evening News (1/7, story 9, 2:05, Pelley) reported that "bacteria that cannot be stopped by antibiotics are called super bugs and every year they claim thousands of lives." However, a "powerful new antibiotic" called teixobactin "could be a game changer." 

        The New York Times (1/8, A13, Grady, Subscription Publication) reports that "the researchers said...the drug works in a way that makes it very unlikely that bacteria will become resistant to it." Meanwhile, "the method developed to produce the drug has the potential to unlock a trove of natural compounds to fight infections and cancer — molecules that were previously beyond scientists' reach because the microbes that produce them could not be grown in the laboratory." The findings were published in Nature. 

        In a front-page story, the Washington Post (1/8, A1, Feltman) reports that researchers "sandwiched soil between two semi-permeable membranes, effectively tricking soil microbes into growing in a 'natural' environment that was actually a lab culture." One of "the 10,000 organisms and 25 antibiotics they grew in this new type of culturing method is Teixobactin." The drug "successfully obliterated MRSA and drug-resistant TB in cell cultures and in mice, and did so without any signs that the bacteria might become resistant to it." 

        Bloomberg News (1/8, Bloomfield) reports, "Teixobactin strikes multiple targets, including cell walls, said Tanja Schneider, a lead author of the study." Bloomberg News adds, "Since the lipid structures it attacks don't evolve as quickly as frequently mutating proteins, it may take the bacteria longer than usual to develop a survival tactic." 

        The Wall Street Journal (1/8, A3, Naik, Subscription Publication) reports, however, that teixobactin was not effective against the majority of strains of gram-negative bacteria. 

        Still, the Los Angeles Times (1/8, Mohan) "Science Now" blog reports, "Experts said the discovery could lead to a new class of antibiotics for the first time in decades." 

        According to the AP (1/8), "The find...marks a return to the heyday of antibiotic research immediately following World War II, when soil microbes yielded the mainstays in the fight against deadly infections." 

        Also covering the story are TIME (1/8, Sifferlin), the Boston Globe (1/8, Johnson), the NBC News(1/8, Fox) website, the NPR (1/7) "Shots" blog, and Reuters (1/8).


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