Scavenger hunt for new antibiotics sends researchers to strange places

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Image: Cam Floyd

It’s said that for nearly 200 years, residents of a small rural area in Northern Ireland called Boho (pronounced “bo”), have practiced a strange and solemn pilgrimage to a local chapel. But they don’t come to pray within the chapel walls. Instead, they’re here for the dirt outside.

And it’s not just locals who are interested in the Boho cure. In an October 2018 study, researchers claimed that a potentially new antibiotic-producing strain of bacteria had been found in the same churchyard soil.

Today, humanity faces an invisible crisis: Antibiotics, which we use to fight infections ranging from pneumonia to chlamydia, are losing their efficacy. …  It’s no exaggeration to say that antibiotics underpin huge swathes of modern medicine.

Related article:  Using CRISPR to fight antibiotic-resistant 'superbugs'

[Researchers are] turning to metagenomics, a method of sampling DNA from an assortment of microbes found in an environmental sample, like rainwater or dirt. In 2018, this technique was applied to 2,000 soil samples, revealing a previously untapped groups of related genes. … The antibiotic it produced was effective against the resistant pathogen MRSA, and appears to be a member of a completely new class called malacidins.

Read full, original post: As Big Pharma Abandons Antibiotic Research, Scientists Turn to Graves, Lizards, and Fungus for New Cures

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