Via Metro, a report by Helen Branswell of The Canadian Press: Soil bug compound foils antibiotic resistance. Excerpt:
A soil sample from Nova Scotia has yielded a compound that could help fight antibiotic resistance.
Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton have discovered that a fungus found in the sample produces a chemical that inactivates the dangerous NDM-1 resistance gene, making bacteria containing it vulnerable to the antibiotics NDM-1 normally helps them evade.
The scientists liken the compound to an adjuvant, a chemical that enhances the power of vaccines.
“Simply put, the molecule knocks out NDM-1 so the antibiotics can do their job,” said Gerry Wright, the biochemistry professor who leads the team which conducted the research.
Their finding was published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.
The precursor chemicals that antibiotics are based on exist in nature and are often found in soil. For years, pharmaceutical companies searching for new versions of these important drugs maintained libraries of bacteria and fungi found in soil, testing the chemicals they produced to see if they had could be used to fight infections. But as new finds dwindled companies have largely withdrawn from this field, leaving little in the antibiotic pipeline.
With the rise in antibiotic resistance and the emergence of multi-drug resistance factors like NDM-1, which confers resistance to almost all existing antibiotics, experts have warned the world is facing a future in which antibiotics no longer work. That could mean surgeries and procedures we view as standards of modern medicine would be too dangerous to undertake because of the risk of infection.
Wright figured that if soil has been a source of antibiotics, it might also contain small molecules that might counteract resistance when taken in combination with antibiotics. So he and his team began to compile their own library from soil samples taken from across Canada. It now contains about 10,000 samples.