Scrutinizing soil samples, United States researchers have discovered a new class of antibiotics capable of killing drug-resistant, disease-causing bacteria.
Malacidin is short for metagenomic acidic lipopeptide antibiotic-cidins.
It's a new class of antibiotic that promises to live up to its rough Latin translation: killer of bad guys. This then triggers bacterial cell destruction, killing the target bacterium. While it was taken from daptomycin, is appears to work differently.
But an even more singular event would be the discovery of a new class of antibiotics that doesn't prompt the development of resistant strains of bacteria. They noted that the bacteria, failed to develop resistance to this new agent despite continuous exposure.
Experts have hailed this new antibiotic from soil the next big thing because, a new antibiotic has not been discovered since 1987.
Some 700,000 people die each year from such infections, with global deaths expected to reach 10 million by 2050 due to antibiotics resistance.
Antibiotics changed the world and ushered in a new age of medicine, opening the door for the treatment and prevention of numerous bacterial infections.
But in a paper published to Nature Microbiology, Rockafeller University in NY researcher Sean Brady reported the discovery of a whole new class of antibiotic obtained from an unknown microorganism found in common soil.
Sifting through the vast quantity of data, Brady and his fellow researchers were on the hunt for a particular gene closely associated with the production of calcium-dependent antibiotics that attack bacterial cells when calcium is present. To expedite the process of obtaining the antibiotic they used high-speed computer processing to sift through the soil samples. They noted a sample from the desert regions that fitted the bill. When they found what they were after, they cloned the genes, rearranged them and implanted them in a host organism, using fermentation to expand the sample.
In September, the World Health Organisation warned antibiotics are "running out" as a report found a "serious lack" of new drugs in the development pipeline. Malacidin successfully killed gram-positive bacteria in the presence of calcium. Brady called this new antibiotic "promising" and with good reason.
For now, he and his colleagues are trying to find the best variants of malacidins, by synthesizing them in the lab or finding analogs in nature.