Scientists discover new antibiotic family in soil


"It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic", Sean Brady of Rockefeller University was quoted as saying.

As a result, numerous workhorses of the world of antibiotics - members of the penicillin, cephalosporin and carbapenem classes - are losing their ability to fight a lengthening list of bacterial diseases.

Soil is thought to be a good source of antibiotics as its low-nutrient content forces different bacteria species to fight against each other for survival, making them "stronger". So instead, they used high-speed computer processing to "screen" the soil samples for the distinctive chemical hallmark of calcium dependence.

Scientists trawling through thousands of soil samples have discovered a whole new class of antibiotics capable of killing drug-resistant bacteria. This process made it possible to test the unique properties of malacidin on MRSA-infected rats.

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For the first time in 30 years, a new type of antibiotic has been unearthed, buried in dirt.

This antibiotic Malacidin, further scores over others because of its ability to prevent development of resistance by the microbes. Daptomycin is the most well-known of these drugs. They had speculated that this novel use of calcium was the key to the longevity of these antibiotics. By narrowing their search for the DNA signature of calcium dependence, they were able to find a needle in a haystack - and find a promising compound.

The team of researchers led by Sean F. Brady, a chemist and associate professor, and his colleagues at Rockefeller University in NY looked at the bacterial DNA from 2,000 soil samples that were taken from different parts of United States.

When they found what they were looking for in a particular sample of desert soil, they captured and cloned the relevant genes, rearranged and inserted them into a host organism, and expanded the resulting sample through fermentation. His team has been trying to analyze them to find naturally-existing antibiotics. "We put that collection of genes into Streptomyces, and that bug now gains the ability to make the new molecules, which are the malacidins".

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This approach enabled the team to produce enough malacidins to test their antibacterial activity. 'This might be a way of reducing resistance'.

Nonetheless, they wrote that the breakthrough suggests there may be more similar compounds like malacidin to discover.

The team of researchers used Malacidin against MRS for consecutive 20 days to see if the bacteria could mutate and develop any resistance to the antibiotic.

Experts have hailed this new antibiotic from soil the next big thing because, a new antibiotic has not been discovered since 1987.

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