Scientists discover new class of antibiotics in soil
These antibiotics can target the formation of the bacterial cell membrane or even destroy the cell wall.
Researchers from The Rockefeller University have discovered a new class of antibiotics in soil that is capable of killing off several antibiotic-resistant pathogens. The research was published in the 'Nature Microbiology' journal on February 12, 2018.
How antibiotics work against bacteria?
• The antibiotic compounds are a special class of peptides (special chains of amino acids) which require calcium for antibacterial activity.
• Calcium-dependent antibiotics are capable of targeting bacteria in a variety of ways and this characteristic makes them effective.
• These antibiotics can target the formation of the bacterial cell membrane or even destroy the cell wall.
Method of study
• The new family of antibiotics comes from molecules present in a large variety of soils.
• The team analyzed more than 1000 unique soil samples to better understand how these peptide compounds are produced and how to exploit them for fighting bacteria.
• After collecting soil samples, researchers picked daptomycin antibiotic to serve as a form of guide.
• The team then used DNA information that encodes for production of the antibiotic in daptomycin.
• After analysing the samples, they came across a new family of antibiotics 'Malacidins'.
• This discovery could be a useful weapon in the field of medicines.
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• The new antibiotic, called Malacidins, was successful in sterilizing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as the superbug MRSA.
• The bacteria attacked with the malacidins did not develop resistance.
• However, Malacidin class is not a universal cure against all bacteria. The targeting mode is only effective against gram-positive bacteria, species with a very thick cell wall.
• Therefore, this antibiotic treatment would not be effective against gram-negative bacteria such as pneumonia and UTIs.