New type of antibiotics to fight drug resistance


  • A new class of antibiotics, from an unconventional source which has a distinct way of killing bacteria, has been discovered which may help combat drug-resistant or hard-to-treat bacterial infections, according to scientists.

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  • According to the World Health Organisation, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today and a significant contributor to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, and increased mortality.

Soil-dwelling worms

  • The antibiotic called odilorhabdins, or ODLs, are produced by symbiotic bacteria found in soil-dwelling nematode worms that colonise insects for food. The bacteria helps in killing the insect and, importantly, secretes the antibiotic to keep competing bacteria away, said researchers from the University of Illinois (UIC) at Chicago and Nosopharm, a France—based biotechnology company.
  • To identify the antibiotic, the team screened 80 cultured strains of the bacteria for antimicrobial activity. They found that ODLs act on the ribosome of bacterial cells.
  • Like many clinically useful antibiotics, ODLs work by targeting the ribosome,” said Yury Polikanov, Assistant Professor at the UIC. “But ODLs are unique because they bind to a place on the ribosome that has never been used by other known antibiotics.