Paper Clip: Hunt for new antibiotics hits pay dirt


  • According to the paper, malacidins are “a distinctive class of antibiotics that are commonly encoded in soil microbiomes but have never been reported in culture-based NP (Natural Products) discovery efforts”.

About Malacidins:

  • Malacidins, the researchers say, “are active against multidrug-resistant pathogens, sterilise methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, which kills 20,000 people every year in the US) skin infections in an animal wound model and did not select for resistance (i.e., did not trigger resistance) under our laboratory conditions”.
  • The malacidins was tested on rats with MRSA skin infections. The condition was cured, and even after 20 days of continued contact with malacidins, the rodents did not experience any side effects. This has raised hopes for the discovery of a non-toxic alternative to the current range of available antibiotics.
  • Dr Brady’s team used gene sequencing to clone DNA from more than 1,000 soil samples collected from across the US. After they had sorted through the material, the scientists found, said Brady, that “most of what’s there is completely unknown, and that’s the future”.
  • The second note of caution is that this potentially wonderful new drug cannot, as yet, treat all infections. Malacidins only target gram-positive bacteria.
  • Gram-negative bacteria can cause cholera, pneumonia, sexually transmitted diseases, and plague.

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