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New Weapon in Battle Against Bacteria

Scientists have discovered a plant toxin whose unique method of dispatching bacteria could be used to create a powerful new range of antibiotics.

Scientist looking into a microscope

The prospect of developing new antibacterial drugs this way has been hailed by doctors, who have been warning for many years that the steady rise of multidrug-resistant pathogens such as E coli now presents a dangerous threat to healthcare across the planet.

The new antibiotic - albicidin - attacks bacteria in a completely different way to existing drugs, a group of British, German and Polish scientists have revealed in a paper recently published in the journal Nature Catalysis. This suggests a new route could be exploited to tackle bacterial disease.

“We could not elicit any resistance towards albicidin in the laboratory,” said Dmitry Ghilarov, whose research group is based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, south east England. “That is why we are really excited - because we think it will be very hard for bacteria to evolve resistance against albicidin-derived antibiotics.”

"There is nothing better for treating a bacterial disease than an antibiotic, so this work, which opens up a whole new range of drugs based on our new understanding of how albicidin works, has got to be good news. It may take years to create clinically effective versions but it does suggest we may have a new weapon in our armoury one day.”



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