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Powerful Antibiotic Found In Dirt Could Kill Drug-Resistant Superbugs

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There is currently a crisis in the world of antibiotics. There are now superbugs that are developing resistance to a lot of the antibiotics currently available on the market. This would make it more difficult to treat infections.

A new report shows that there are still antibiotics that haven't been discovered by scientists that could help with the fight. New antibiotics discovered called malacidin are so powerful that they could treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Malacidins

The study published in the journal Nature Microbiology shows that scientists can still find strong antibiotics in nature. Malacidin — the name is a combination of Latin word for "bad" and the French word for "kill" — were able to attack and break down the cell walls of an MRSA infection that was present in rats. It was able to clear it in a day.

Malacidins were discovered in the dirt of a New Jersey farm field. They've found to be so powerful they can wipe out many infections in labs and microbes that have been traditionally resistant to most antibiotics.

Antibiotics were found using genetic sequencing techniques and were used to screen through the thousands of soil bacteria. Scientists had to go through genetic material from 2,000 soil samples.

Malacidins are so effective because they interfere with infectious bacteria's ability to create cell walls. Scientists tested whether or not bacteria would be able to develop resistance to the malacidins. After leaving the bacteria exposed to malacidin for 21 days, scientists found that the bacteria didn't develop a resistance to the antibiotic.

Malacidin is related to another strong antibiotic daptomycin. Daptomycin uses calcium to disrupt cell walls in bacteria as well. It was introduced in 2003, and bacteria still hasn't developed a resistance to the antibiotic.

The research team from Rockefeller University is led by biochemist Sean Brady. To find a new antibiotic, the team purposely looked for relatives of daptomycin. They wanted to find another antibiotic that bacteria had a hard time developing resistance to. Brady's team believes that its use of calcium contributed to its effectiveness.

This would be a huge moment for antibiotic industry. Scientists haven't introduced a new antimicrobial medication since 1987. Bacteria has been able to develop resistance to powerful antibiotics. Drugs such as penicillin are no longer as effective as they used to be.

It is estimated that antibiotic-resistant infections will lead 10 million deaths a year worldwide by 2050. Scientists find themselves rushing to find new antibiotics to stop before that point is reached.

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