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Natural Antibiotic Found in Human Nose Could Fight Superbug

Jul 29, 2016 04:31 AM EDT

Scientists have found a new antibiotic produced by bacteria in the human nose.

Researchers from the University of Tubingen in Germany that the bacteria Staphylococcus lugdunesis inside the human nose produces a chemical called lugdunin.

This chemical was found to be capable of combatting the so-called "superbug" or MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphyloccocus aureus), which is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could cause potentially life-threatening infection.

"Despite the urgent need for new antibiotics that are effective against resistant bacteria, very few compounds are in development," the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the scientific journal Nature.

Antibiotics have been widely used in the field of medicine, but many pathogens have developed a resistance against them.

One such antibiotic-resistant bacteria is the superbug or MRSA. For this year, the U.S. has recorded two cases of superbugs. According to study co-author Andreas Peschel, in a matter of 10 years, more people could be expected to die from diseases caused by resistant bacteria than cancer, CNN reports.

Many of current antibiotics were sourced from nature, but microbes inside the human body have not yet been fully explored.

"It was totally unexpected to find a human-associated bacterium to produce a real antibiotic," Peschel told CNN.

In the study, the researchers took nasal secretion samples from human subjects and isolated 90 strains of different Staphylococcus species. Among these species, the researchers discovered that S. lugdunesis killed S. aureus when the two were cultured together in a dish. The research team also identified its weapon, lugdunin, representing the first member of a new class of antibiotics.

According to the researchers, lugdunin was also effective against MRSA infections in mice, but they were not able to see how the compound works. The researchers said that the bacterium itself could be a good probiotic, which could be applied nasally to combat staph infections in patients.

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