The Quest for "Drugs from Dirt"

The Quest for "Drugs from Dirt"

Petri dish of bacteria – D0006
Scientists from Rockefeller University recently discovered a new potential antibiotic, known as teixobactin, after screening uncultured bacteria with soil samples containing various nutrients and growth factors.  Researchers found that the compound was extremely effective against gram-positive bacteria that are normally antibiotic resistant, such as MRSA or Streptococcus pneumoniae.  The quest has begun to collect soil samples from around the world, particularly from unique or unexplored environments like caves and islands, to unearth new compounds produced by the soil’s bacteria. 
Developing drugs from microbes found in the soil is nothing new.  Antibiotics such as penicillin are derived from compounds produced by the Penicillium soil fungi, known for causing mold and spoiling food.  However widespread misuse of modern antibiotics has contributed to the development of resistant strains of bacteria.  The organic diversity found in these new soil samples will hopefully lead to a new generation of antibiotics to combat the more dangerous strains of bacterial infections.
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