New antibiotic family discovered in dirt

New antibiotic family discovered in dirt

US scientists have discovered a new family of antibiotics in soil samples.

The natural compounds could be used to combat hard-to-treat infections, the team at Rockefeller University hopes.

Tests show the compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA.

Experts say the work, published in Nature Microbiology, offers fresh hope in the antibiotics arms race.

Drug-resistant diseases are one of the biggest threats to global health.

They kill around 700,000 people a year, and new treatments are urgently needed.

Drugs from dirt

Soil is teeming with millions of different micro-organisms that produce lots of potentially therapeutic compounds, including new antibiotics.

Dr Sean Brady’s team at New York’s Rockefeller University has been busy unearthing them.

They used a gene sequencing technique to analyse more than 1,000 soil samples taken from across the US.

When they discovered malacidins in many of the samples, they had a hunch it was an important find.

They tested the compound on rats that they had given MRSA and it eliminated the infection in skin wounds.

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