The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA researchers reported the discovery of a whole new class of antibiotic obtained from an unknown microorganism found in common soil.
Antibiotics were found using genetic sequencing techniques and were used to screen through the thousands of soil bacteria. Scientists had to go through genetic material from 2,000 soil samples.
New antibiotics discovered called malacidin are so powerful that they could treat methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus aures (MRSA).
Malacidin, the name is a combination of Latin word for “bad” and the French word for “kill” were able to attack and break down the cell walls of an MRSA infection that was present in rats.
Malacidin is related to another strong antibiotic daptomycin. Daptomycin uses calcium to disrupt cell walls in bacteria as well.
Daptomycin was introduced in 2003, and bacteria still hasn’t developed a resistance to the antibiotic.
Malacidin are linked to a small family of antibiotics that require calcium for antibacterial activity.
Although calcium-dependent, the structure and mode of action of malacidins are unlike other antibiotics in this family.
Malacidin binds to a late stage cell wall intermediate and so shuts down cell wall biosynthesis, much the same way vancomycin works.
“It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic,” said Dr. Sean Brady, who lead the research team.
“So you have a molecule that will sterilize MDR [multidrug-resistant] Staph, with no resistance developed in the wound and we don’t see toxicity in the animal,” Brady said. “That’s promising.”
The team also found that the mechanism of action in malacidins is distinct from other calcium-dependent antibiotics.
The identification of this new antibiotic is similar to that of penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic drug first discovered in mold bacteria by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming in 1928.
What makes malacidins unique is that bacteria exposed to the antibiotic family do not develop resistance to it. The study was published in the journal Nature Microbiology.