Bacteria found in ancient Irish soil halts growth of superbugs -- new hope for tackling antibiotic resistance
Author: Swansea University
CAPTION: Growth of the newly discovered Streptomyces sp. myrophorea, so named because it produces a distinctive fragrance similar to that of oil of wintergreen. Although superficially resembling fungi, Streptomyces are true bacteria and are the source of two-thirds of the various frontline antibiotics used in medicine.
CREDIT: G Quinn, Swansea University
Researchers analysing soil from Ireland long thought to have medicinal properties have discovered that it contains a previously unknown strain of bacteria which is effective against four of the top six superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA
Antibiotic resistant superbugs could kill up to 1.3 million people in Europe by 2050, according to recent research.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the problem as "one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today".
The new strain of bacteria was discovered by a team based in Swansea University Medical School, made up of researchers from Wales, Brazil, Iraq and Northern Ireland.
They have named the new strain Streptomyces sp. myrophorea.
The soil they analysed originated from an area of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, which is known as the Boho Highlands. It is an area of alkaline grassland and the soil is reputed to have healing properties.
The search for replacement antibiotics to combat multi-resistance has prompted researchers to explore new sources, including folk medicines: a field of study known as ethnopharmacology. They are also focusing on environments where well-known antibiotic producers like Streptomyces can be found.
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