A method for detecting more effective antibiotics that can be hidden in ordinary dirt has been devised by a group of researchers from McMaster University who have published their work in Nature Biotechnology. This method can be used to extract rarer or harder to extract compounds that can be useful for developing new antibiotics.
Today’s antibiotics actually come mainly from bacteria and fungi living in the soil, as Elizabeth Culp, one of the researchers who carried out the study, points out. This method describes how the most common antibiotics produced by soil bacteria can be removed to rediscover the “hidden” ones that could hardly be identified by the “classical” methods.
The method developed by researchers is based on a tool based on CRISPR-Cas9 technology. Researchers have tested the new method on different soil bacteria that produce antibiotics. With this method, they succeeded in eliminating the compounds that form the basis of two common antibiotics, streptomycin and streptomycin.
By subjecting the modified bacteria to a new screening without these components, the researchers discovered new compounds. “This simple approach led to the production of several antibiotics that would otherwise be masked,” said Culp himself. “We were able to quickly discover rare and previously unknown variants of antibiotics.”
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