New Antibiotics from Dirt
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New Antibiotics from Dirt

Researchers have designed a new way to identify antibiotics hidden in ordinary dirt rapidly. Researchers at MacMaster University devised the original method.

This study may help guide drug discovery by allowing researchers to reassess the potential of bacteria that have already been used for rare or new compounds with antibiotic activity. The goal is to develop the medicines in response to the current global antimicrobial resistance crisis.

The study- New Antibiotics from Dirt was published in Nature Biotechnology. 

Elizabeth Culp, the co-principal author of the study, said that most of the antibiotics in clinical use today have been derived from bacteria and fungi that live in the soil. Her team is trying to extract new compounds from these microorganisms. This is done because she believes that these microorganisms are capable of producing new antibiotics which may help combat antibiotic sensitivity.

Gerry Wright is the team leader and principal author of the study. She is a professor at the David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery within the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.

New Antibiotics from Dirt- The New Technology Invented

The researchers applied the CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology to a selection of antibiotic-producing soil bacteria. Using this technology, the researchers deleted the genes responsible for the production of two commonly found antibiotics- streptomycin and streptothricin. When the modified bacteria were rescreened without these components, the researchers found that most of them made new compounds.

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Grace Yim, the co-author, and postdoctoral fellow added that the traditional antibiotic screens commonly used today keep identifying the same antibiotics. Due to this reason, the drug discovery field has moved away from developing antibiotics for decades.

The researchers added that they hope that their strategy- New Antibiotics from Dirt will help to motivate others to dig deeper into the field of antibiotic discovery.

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Rahul Mishra is a Science enthusiast and eager to learn something new each day. He has a degree in Microbiology and has joined forces with Biotecnika in 2019 due to his passion for writing and science.