[Ip-health] FT: Bacteria from human nose shown to be powerful antibiotic

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jul 28 01:03:41 PDT 2016


https://next.ft.com/content/25f942ee-53f6-11e6-9664-e0bdc13c3bef

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Bacteria from human nose shown to be powerful antibiotic

Lugdunin kills range of bacteria, including ones resistant to existing drugs


by: Clive Cookson, Science Editor

Bacteria growing inside the human body could be a rich source of
much-needed new antibiotics. The first example, discovered in Germany, is a
bug growing inside the nose. It produces a compound that kills other
bacteria including ones resistant to existing drugs.

Researchers from University of Tübingen described their new antibiotic,
which they call lugdunin, for the first time at the European Science Open
Forum in Manchester. The study is also published in the journal Nature.

“Existing antibiotics have been isolated mainly from microbes that live in
the soil,” said Andreas Peschel of Tübingen. “No one has looked
systematically for antibiotics from bacteria that live in our bodies.”

The human microbiota, as it is known, includes thousands of bacterial
species. Most live in the gut, where they play an essential role in
metabolism, but they also inhabit our skin, mouth, nose and other organs.

The research began with the observation that human noses containing the
microbe Staphylococcus lugdunensis are free of the more dangerous
Staphylococcus aureus.

Experiments showed that this is because S. lugdunensis produces a
previously unknown compound, lugdunin, which eliminates S. aureus —
including the drug-resistant strains known as MRSA that are a global public
health problem — and other bacterial pathogens.

S. lugdunensis makes lugdunin to clear competing species out of the
nutrient-poor environment of the nose.

What makes lugdunin remarkable is not only its lethality against a range of
bacteria in animal tests — it is approximately as powerful as vancomycin, a
drug used to treat life-threatening infections that do not respond to other
antibiotics — but also the way it keeps on working without inducing drug
resistance.

“S. aureus has been exposed to this compound in the human nose for
thousands of years and never developed resistance,” said Dr Peschel.

The Tübingen team has patented lugdunin and is looking for partners to
develop it commercially.

Further research in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology will be required
to optimise the molecular structure, including making the compound more
soluble in water, before clinical trials could start in people.

Dr Peschel said a possible alternative to a new drug based on lugdunin
would be to transplant the bacteria that produce it, which seem to be
harmless, into patients infected with antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

“This might be a proof of concept for something new: a probiotic way of
preventing or fighting infection,” he said.

“If you have a perfect bacterium to eliminate S. aureus from the nose, why
not give it to patients at risk?”



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