Sunday, February 18, 2018

A New Antibiotic on the Way?

Among all the worries of our current era, there's one that's so far only a low-grade nag for me: the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I don't let myself worry about it too much, but I know it's out there and I don't fully appreciate how bad it will be if resistance becomes common.

So here's one little bit of hopeful news: In soil-dwelling bacteria, scientists find a new drug to fight drug-resistant superbugs.

Malacidin (great name, by the way) breaks down the cell walls of MRSA and cleared the infection within a day in animal trials. If malacidin works out, it will be the first new class of antibiotics since 1987. And probably the first to prevent development of resistance.

How it was identified is also interesting: scientists knew that calcium dependence was a weakness in bacteria, so they were looking for ways to disrupt calcium. They fine-tuned their search to the DNA signature of calcium dependence, making it quicker to find in the soils they sampled.

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