First new antibiotic discovery in decades could ease resistance fears

8 Jan 2015

The first new effective antibiotic discovery in decades could ease fears about our over-prescription of antibiotics by offering other potential new sources of treatments for serious illnesses.

The new antibiotic called teixobactin has been found to kill a wide variety of some of the most common, yet serious, illnesses that effect people, including TB and MRSA, as well as other potentially lethal infections.

The research has been published in the journal Nature. Researchers screened soil for 10,000 different types of bacteria before discovering 25 that would become teixobactin.

According to The Guardian, the research team led by Kim Lewis, director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center at Northeastern University in Boston, worked with a company called NovoBiotic to obtain the new antibiotic.

Harnessing the power of nature

Traditionally, antibiotics are isolated and removed from fungi and bacteria, but because the bugs could not be grown in a laboratory, only around 1pc of all viruses have been analysed for their antibiotic compounds.

That is why the team developed a new device known as the iChip, which allows the bacteria to cultivate in a natural habitat by sandwiching it between two layers within the device.

This marks the first time in almost three decades that a new class of antibiotic has been discovered, and will come as welcome news, given there have been ever-increasing fears that the world’s over-prescription of antibiotics will inevitably lead to them becoming useless as a form of treatment due to the viruses evolving to become immune from the antibiotics.

“The properties of this compound suggest a path towards developing antibiotics that are likely to avoid development of resistance,” said the synopsis of the paper.

Antibiotics image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic