A Soil Microbe Turned New Antibiotic Could Save Us All

A Soil Microbe Turned New Antibiotic Could Save Us All

A soil microbe may be the newest weapon in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

That’s the findings of a new study published in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

Many antibiotics currently in use originate from soil microbes. But what makes this new antibiotic called Teixobactin so unique is that it requires use of the natural environment to reproduce rather than thriving in a sterile lab environment.

According to the New York Times, “The new research is based on the premise that everything on earth — plants, soil, people, animals — is teeming with microbes that compete fiercely to survive. Trying to keep one another in check, the microbes secrete biological weapons: antibiotics.”

The Times reports that tests on mice for infections including MRSA were cured with no side effects. “Better still, the researchers said, the drug works in a way that makes it very unlikely that bacteria will become resistant to it.”

And that’s a pretty big finding considering how rampant antibiotic resistance is becoming. Scientists have long assumed that resistance would eventually develop to all antibiotics, requiring a steady stream of new and more potent drugs to treat common infections.

But if theories around Teixobactin prove correct, this could mean a significant medical breakthrough with the potential to save millions of lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug resistant bacteria infect two million Americans every year and kill 23,000. “The World Health Organization warned last year that such infections were occurring all over the world, and that drug resistant strains of many diseases were emerging faster than new antibiotics could be made to fight them,” reports the Times. “Compounding the problem is the fact that many drug companies backed away from trying to develop new antibiotics in favor of other, more profitable, types of drugs.”

While human trials of Teixobactin are still years away, the finding points to the potential of finding more ways to effectively manage antibiotic resistant bacteria and protect future generations from untreatable illnesses.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Soil in hands image via Shutterstock