Super microbes found in the soil could save the day in the fight against super bacteria.
The antibiotic discovered from these microbes, called teixobactin, may effectively fight bacteria that have become resistant to current antibiotics, a new study found.
Microbes, according to the American Society for Microbiology, are “single-cell organisms so tiny that millions can fit into the eye of a needle.”
While current antibiotics have cured many diseases, disease-causing bacteria has been mutating over time to resist these medications.
This “results in the requirement for a constant introduction of new compounds,” wrote the authors of this study, which was published in the journal Nature.
Antibiotics are molecules derived from bacteria, fungi or synthetic substances that can fight bacteria. The widespread use of antibiotics has led to a war for survival for mutant bacteria, and this may be posing dangers to public health.
“It’s one of the most significant threats to global health we’re looking at,” said Charles Penn, a coordinator at the World Health Organization, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2 million people become infected with medication-resistant “superbugs” each year.
Scientists have to cross some hurdles in creating new antibiotics — the main one being that most bacteria is found in soil. Only 1 percent of bacteria can be created in a lab, so harvesting new medicines can be difficult, according to this study, led by Losee L. Ling, PhD, of NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA.
Dr. Ling and team overcame this challenge by putting different kinds of microbes in close proximity on a plate and letting the bacteria combine and grow under soil — a more natural environment.
They discovered teixobactin through this process, then tested it on mice who were infected with tuberculosis, pneumonia and other diseases.
Creating an actual marketable medication out of teixobactin could take five years, reports the Los Angeles Times, and research trials could be underway in about two years.
Researchers have to be sure that the new antibiotics can be safely administered to patients and that they are effective.
“We will not know whether teixobactin will be effective in humans until this research is taken from animal testing in the lab to clinical trials,” said Dr. Richard Seabrook, who is in charge of business development at Wellcome Trust, a biomedical research charity based in London, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This study was published Jan. 8 in the journal Nature.
The super microbe patent belongs to NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals, and the study authors noted that they had financial stakes in the project.
The National Institutes of Health and the German government funded this research.