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New Antibiotic Found in Soil Effective Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria

New antibiotic stops bacteria from growing by preventing them from building RNA chains.

Mary Bates, Contributor
Friday, July 28, 2017


There is an urgent need for new antibacterial compounds, particularly ones that are effective against bacteria resistant to current drugs.

In a recent paper published in the journal Cell, researchers reported the discovery of a new antibiotic named pseudouridimycin, which they found by screening microbes from soil samples. The new compound proved effective against a broad spectrum of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a test tube, and it also cured bacterial infections in mice.

Pseudouridimycin works by selectively inhibiting bacterial RNA polymerase, blocking the growth of a number of bacterial pathogens by preventing them from forming chains of RNA. The binding site and mechanism are different from that of known antibacterial drugs, endowing pseudouridimycin with several important characteristics. First, the new compound has no cross-resistance with current antibacterial drugs, so it can kill bacteria resistant to those drugs. Second, it can be used in combination with current antibacterial drugs to provide an additive effect. And finally and most importantly, because pseudouridimycin works through a different binding site and mechanism, it is not prone to the development of antibacterial resistance.

Pseudouridimycin is a promising lead for antibacterial therapy, especially in these days of widespread antibiotic resistance. The researchers hope to investigate the compound further to see if semi-synthetic derivatives are any more effective than the compound produced by the soil microbe. The discovery also suggests that the process of screening extracts from microbes may yield additional antibacterial compounds.