Scientists have discovered a new antibiotic – the first in nearly 30 years.
Teixobactin, discovered in a screen of uncultured bacteria, was found to have destroyed both Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis with no resistant mutations being made by either bacterium.
The antibiotic stops bacteria from forming by preventing the growth of cell wall synthesis through binding to lipid precursors in the bacteria. This also makes the antibiotic less likely to have bacteria develop a resistance to it.
Most antibiotics occur in soil but researchers are unable to cultivate them in laboratory conditions as only 1% can be grown in this enviroment.
The new research saw bacteria being developed inside chips which where then buried in soil. More than 20 antibiotics were discovered as a result of this trial, but teixobactin is believed to be the most promising find.
No new antibiotics have been developed since 1987.
Lead author of the study, Kim Lewis, said: “Teixobactin shows how we can adopt an alternative strategy and develop compounds to which bacteria are not resistant.”
So far, the antibiotic has only been found to be effective in treating Gram-negative bacteria in trials on mice. Human trials are not estimated to begin for another year or two.
The cost of antibacterial resistance has been estimated to cost £66 trillion by 2050, according to economist, Jim O’Neill, who was commissioned by the Prime Minister, to investigate bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
It is estimated 10 million people will die a year by 2050 if nothing is done to stop antimicrobial resistance.