Sea sponges produce a compound that can kill superbug MRSA

Antibiotic resistance is a problem that affects every country in the world. Bacteria are evolutionary melting pots and in a short amount of time are able to acquire genes that allow them break down antibiotics and survive our current treatments. This can result in life threatening infections that are resistant to all known drugs. MRSA and VRSA are two examples of drug resistant bacteria that have begin infecting people worldwide. According to the CDC, 80,000 MRSA infections occur each year in the US and over 11,000 deaths result from the infection. We are constantly in an arms race trying to develop new drugs that can kill these increasingly resistant bacteria. Scientists in Florida may have gotten a leg up on the arms race by identifying a compound in seas sponges that has potent anti-microbial properties.

Sea sponges are simple filter feeding organisms that have given us plenty bioactive compounds to use in medicine and research. The ream of researchers extracted a compound from the sea sponge and found that it had a potent antibiotic effect against many bacteria they tested. The compound, here in called Dragmacidin G, most importantly showed strong antibiotic potential against MRSA and other antibiotic resistant bacteria. Importantly, the killing effect of this compound was more specific to bacterial cells than mammalian cells indicating that it may be a suitable antibiotic for human use. It also has potential uses in the fight against resistant tuberculosis.

These preliminary results indicate that Dragmacidin G may be useful for treating antibiotic resistant infections in humans but proper safety and clinical trials need to be done. The search for new antibiotics is hard and there are fewer antibiotics being discovered now than in the previous decades. To combat the rise in antibiotic resistance we need to eliminate antibiotics from our farming practices, home cleaning products, and unnecessary prescriptions.

Image Credit: Flickr Wilfred Hdez

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