It holds promise against an antibiotic resistant pathogen.
The human nose is chock-full of bacteria, and a team of scientists at the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) has discovered a new natural antibiotic that’s been hiding away in our schnozzes.
The compound, called Lugdunin, can combat Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is a potentially life-threatening infection that has shown resistance to some existing antibiotics.
"Normally antibiotics are formed only by soil bacteria and fungi," one of the researchers, Professor Andreas Peschel, said in a press statement. "The notion that human microflora may also be a source of antimicrobial agents is a new discovery."
After swabbing people’s noses and culturing the different strains of bacteria, the scientists detected the new antibiotic, noticing that Staphylococcus aureus was rarely found when the Lugdunin compound was present in the nose. When the two were introduced, Lugdunin killed the S. aureus bacteria.
The team closely examined the structure of Lugdunin, finding a never-before-seen ring structure of protein blocks, which makes Lugdunin an entire new class of materials, they say.
Further, the team confirmed Lugdunin’s ability to combat the multiresistant pathogen through tests on mice.
"There are estimates which suggests that more people will die from resistant bacteria in the coming decades than cancer," another team member, Dr. Bernhard Krismer, said in the release. "The improper use of antibiotics strengthens this alarming development.”
These findings, which have been reported in the journal Nature, suggest that the human microbiome may be home to other new antibiotics that we haven’t yet come across. In their paper, the authors urge that the microbiota “should be considered as a source for new antibiotics.”