From ocean mud to anthracimycinFinding new antibiotics is rare, but discovering one that could potentially deal with nasties like anthrax (and I don't mean the thrash metal band) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is downright like pulling a winning lotto ticket. But if we know where to look, nature contains many such lotto tickets.
This is what researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego found in the mud at the bottom of the Pacific ocean off the coast of California. The new chemical compound was extracted from an ocean-dwelling microbe that was first collected last year: "Initial testing of the compound, which they named anthracimycin, revealed its potency as a killer of anthrax, the infectious disease often feared as a biological weapon, as well as MRSA."
“The real importance of this work is the fact that anthracimycin has a new and unique chemical structure,” said Fenical, who added that the finding is a basic research discovery, which could lead to testing and development, and eventually a drug. “The discovery of truly new antibiotic compounds is quite rare. This discovery adds to many previous discoveries that show that marine bacteria are genetically and chemically unique.”