The formerly best weapons of medicine against bacterial pathogens are increasingly ineffective. Antibiotic resistance continues to spread. Many bacteria, including the hospital germ MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), are now immune to several drug classes.
Sean Brady, Rockefeller University, New York, USA, and colleagues have taken thousands of soil samples across the United States and studied the bacteria found in them. Many of these microorganisms use antibiotic agents to prevail against competitors. The researchers identified a group of genes that code for particularly interesting substances, the so-called malacidines. These substances proved to be highly effective against a number of Gram-positive bacteria in initial experiments.
Malacidines kill the pathogens by attacking so-called lipid II molecules, which are necessary for building the cell wall. In tests with MRSA-infected rats, for example, the skin completely healed after the administration of the novel agent. The antibiotic class of malacidines could, therefore, be a promising candidate for new therapeutics. According to the team, there is no reason to fear that resistance to this drug will develop quickly., since it is difficult for bacteria to build up immunity against the malacidine’s attack strategy.
- Culture-independent discovery of the malacidins as calcium-dependent antibiotics with activity against multidrug-resistant Gram-positive pathogens,
Bradley M. Hover, Seong-Hwan Kim, Micah Katz, Zachary Charlop-Powers, Jeremy G. Owen, Melinda A. Ternei, Jeffrey Maniko, Andreia B. Estrela, Henrik Molina, Steven Park, David S. Perlin, Sean F. Brady,
Nat. Microbiol. 2018.