Researchers at Rockefeller University in the US have found a new family of antibiotics by conducting a genetic study in a variety of soil samples.
Named malacidins, the calcium-based natural compounds are expected to aid in the treatment of different drug-resistant bacterial infections, reported the BBC.
The researchers said that the lack of new treatments could result in a tenfold increase of mortality rates due to untreatable infections by 2050.
According to the research published in Nature microbiology, the team developed a culture-independent natural products (NP) discovery platform, which employed sequencing, bioinformatic analysis and heterologous expression of biosynthetic gene clusters from DNA obtained in environmental samples.
By using the DNA information of an antibiotic called daptomycin as a reference, the researchers studied the genomes of antibiotics used by microorganisms in more than 2,000 soil samples, reported phys.org.
During the analysis, they discovered malacidins that used calcium to destroy the cell walls of bacteria and in turn addressed the infection caused.
Upon testing in mice induced with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA) that is multidrug-resistant, malacidins were found to have completely eliminated the bacteria.
They also reported that further investigation under laboratory conditions did not reveal any bacterial resistance to malacidins but additional evaluation in clinical trials is required.
Rockefeller University research team member Dr Sean Brady was quoted by the BBC as saying: “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic.
“It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.”