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Antibiotic from human gut new weapon against superbugs

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(Arstechnica) For years, scientists have been digging into dirt mounds and mud pits across the globe to uncover new antibiotics. But they may have to look no further than their own pile of poop.

 

The microbes bustling in our bellies may be gold mines for new antibiotic drugs, researchers report this week in Nature Chemical Biology. As proof of gut-bugs’ potential, the authors dug up a new bacteria-busting drug that can reverse resistance in pathogens and help kill off methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. In mice with lethal MRSA infections, the drug helped cure 100 percent of infections.

 

The finding shouldn’t be surprising; many of modern medicine’s most powerful antibiotics were pilfered from microbes. The tiny critters use the drugs to defend themselves from other microbes and battle for turf and resources. But, as bacteria develop resistance—creating an urgent public health crisis—scientists have been seeking new drugs to usurp. In their search, many scientists turned to sifting through exotic soils and sediments. They assumed that the molecular weaponry of bacteria closest to us had already been tapped. Yet, as more researchers delve into the complex microbial communities within us—our microbiomes—they’re finding new depths to plumb.

 

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