Antibiotic resistance threatens humanity even as superbugs are discovered in places like pig farms. But a recent discovery offers new hope. A Rockefeller University-led team of scientists found a new family of antibiotics in dirt, the BBC reported. The researchers hope the natural compounds could be used to fight infections that are difficult to treat.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

Antibiotic, antibiotics, medicine, health, capsule, pill, drug

12 scientists discovered malacidins, compounds which, based on tests, kill multiple bacterial diseases now resistant to most of our existing antibiotics. That includes the superbug MRSA. They utilized a gene sequencing technique to scrutinize over 1,000 soil samples that came from around America to find the new antibiotic family. The BBC said soil teems with millions of microorganisms that produce compounds that could be potentially therapeutic or serve as new antibiotics.

Related: Antibiotic resistant bugs could kill 10 million people each year by 2050

Malacidins were present in many of the samples, suggesting it could be an important find. According to the BBC, the scientists gave rats MRSA and then tested malacidins; the compound eradicated the infection in skin wounds.

Dirt, soil, hands, brown, garden, land

They’re now working to boost the drug’s effectiveness so that perhaps it could be developed into a treatment for humans – but that could take a while. Rockefeller University scientist Sean Brady told the BBC, “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.”

Antibiotic Research UK professor Colin Garner, who was not part of the research team, said the find is good news but we really need antibiotics for gram-negative bacteria. These new compounds might tackle gram-positive infections like MRSA, but “our concern are the so called gram-negative bacteria which are difficult to treat and where resistance is on the increase.”

The journal Nature Microbiology published the research online yesterday. Scientists from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School contributed.

Via the BBC

Images via Pixabay and Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash