Scientists have discovered an antibiotic with the potential to fight many diseases — through a soil bacterium, according to a report published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
Although the new antibiotic has yet to be tested in people, there are signs that pathogens will be slow to evolve resistance to it.
The study team led by Kim Lewis of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, report that the antibiotic, which they have named teixobactin, was active against the deadly bacterium MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in mice, and some other pathogens.
“It's a tremendous source of new antibiotic compound. The properties of this compound suggest a path towards developing antibiotics that are likely to avoid development of resistance. We developed several methods to grow uncultured organisms by cultivation in situ or by using specific growth factors, says Lewis adding: “ Antibiotic resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice, causing a public health crisis.”
A multichannel device, the iChip, was used to simultaneously isolate
and growuncultured bacteria. A sample of soil is diluted so that approx-
imately one bacterial cell is delivered to a given channel, after which
the device is covered with two semi-permeable membranes and placed
back in the soil.Extracts from 10,000 isolates obtained by growth in iChips were screened for antimicrobial activity.