Genetic study of soil organisms reveals new family of antibiotics | 2/13/2018 | Staff
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A team of researchers at Rockefeller University has discovered a new family of antibiotics by conducting a genetic study of a wide range of soil microorganism antibiotics. In their paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the group describes their study and how well samples of the new antibiotic worked in rats.

Bacteria are evolving to become drug resistant, making it increasingly difficult to treat people with bacterial infections. Because of this, scientists the world over are looking for new antibiotics. In this new effort, the researchers studied microorganisms that live in soil as a possible source of new antibiotics—in order to survive, they, too, must have some means of fighting off bacterial infections.

Researchers - Soil - Samples - Daptomycin - Form

The researchers collected soil samples, then picked an antibiotic, daptomycin, to serve as a form of guide. It uses calcium to disrupt bacterial cell walls, killing the cells. The team then used DNA information that encodes for production of the antibiotic in daptomycin as a guide as they studied the genomes of antibiotics used by microorganisms in over 2000 soil samples. They came across a new family of antibiotics, one they named malacidins—they fight off infections by using calcium to disrupt bacterial cell walls. The team notes that unlike other antibacterial agents, the calcium does not cause the walls to leak, but instead disrupts their behavior in other ways.

To see how well the newly discovered antibiotics might work, the team tested some samples on rats that with induced MRSA skin infections. They report that the antibiotics completely eliminated the bacteria. The team also put the antibiotics through testing to determine whether bacteria could become...
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