Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Antibiotic from Soil Bacteria

Many of the most widely used antibiotics have come out of the dirt. Penicillin came from Penicillium, a fungus found in soil, and vancomycin came from a bacterium found in dirt. Now, researchers from Northeastern University and NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals and their colleagues have identified a new Gram-positive bacteria-targeting antibiotic from a soil sample collected in Maine that can kill species including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Moreover, the researchers have not yet found any bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic, called teixobactin. Their results are published today (January 7) in Nature.

"When we saw no resistance [to the compound], my first reaction was that we had discovered junk that would be highly toxic," said microbiologist Kim Lewis, director of Northeastern's Antimicrobial Discovery Center. But mice treated with teixobactin after lethal doses of either MRSA or Streptococcus pneumonia survived and showed no signs of toxicity—a pleasant surprise to Lewis and his colleagues.

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