The Mega Antibiotic

Monica Daubon

As you might know, some infectious diseases have grown resistant to antibiotics. In result, scientists have created many variations of antibiotics to fight specific infections. But now, scientists have developed an antibiotic to fight these “superbugs,” which causes two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths every year (The Week, pg 19).

Most antibiotics are created by bacteria themselves. This might seem kind of strange, but this also explains the need for different types of antibiotics. The bacterium’s defense method against other bacterium is to produce antibiotic that kills other bacteria. Scientists harvest these antibiotics to use against infections just as the bacterium would use them. An issue with harvesting the antibiotics is that scientists cannot reproduce the habitat of bacterium in the lab, making the harvesting very limited.

Thanks to researchers at the Northeastern University, a device has been created in order to trick bacteria into thinking they are domesticated, therefore broadening the access to potential antibiotics. Twenty-five antibiotics had been discovered using this method and one of these 25 antibiotics, called teixobactin, has proved to be highly effective in treating pneumonia, tuberculosis and staph infection in lab mice. This antibiotic breaks down the cell walls of the bacterium which makes the antibiotic free of resistance for decades (at least).

Although it may take up to five years to make this antibiotic viable for commercial use, it holds a “promising source of new antimicrobials and will help revive the field of antibiotic discovery” (The Week, pg 19). Superbugs have met their match.