Raising hopes of a potent new weapon in the fight against rising antibiotic resistance, scientists have discovered in soil samples a new family of antibiotics that could eventually be used to combat hard-to-treat infections.
The researchers from Rockefeller University in New York used a gene sequencing technique to analyse more than 1,000 soil samples, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
Tests showed the compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA, short for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus that mainly affects people staying in hospital, according to the study published in the journal Nature Microbiology.
In experiments with rats, the compound eliminated MRSA infection.
With a view to developing the compounds into a real treatment for people, the researchers are now working to improve the drug's effectiveness.
"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.
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