Friday, November 16, 2018

Antibiotic that could Treat Tuberculosis Found in Dirt

Certain strains of tuberculosis are becoming resistant to the antibiotics that we have available, such as rifamycin. A research team from Rockefeller examined an antibiotic that is found in dirt to see if it could destroy the mutant bacteria strains. The researchers were looking for an alternative drug that acted like rifamycin and could bind to RNA polymerase, since any genetic changes in the bacteria prevent rifamycin from binding to it. They searched for molecules that were similar to rifamycin and could bind to mutated RNA polymerase in nature. They sequenced the genes of the microbes that they found in soil samples that were collected from different locations. The researchers discovered a group of antibiotics that share a large portion of their genes with rifamycin. These natural antibiotics are known as kanglemycins, which are able to deal with mutated strains that don’t respond to rifamycin. It was hypothesized that natural antibiotics are experiencing the same selective pressure as antibiotics in the medical field.

I thought that this discovery was important because it could lead to alternative forms of treatment for tuberculosis and similar illnesses. Kanglemycins could be useful in dealing with mutated tuberculosis strains. However, it’s possible that these mutated strains and other strains of tuberculosis could eventually become resistant to this new antibiotic, which could lead to another search for an alternative.


James Peek, Mirjana Lilic, Daniel Montiel, Aleksandr Milshteyn, Ian Woodworth, John B. Biggins, Melinda A. Ternei, Paula Y. Calle, Michael Danziger, Thulasi Warrier, Kohta Saito, Nathaniel Braffman, Allison Fay, Michael S. Glickman, Seth A. Darst, Elizabeth A. Campbell, Sean F. Brady. Rifamycin congeners kanglemycins are active against rifampicin-resistant bacteria via a distinct mechanism. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06587-2

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