Thursday 27 November 2014

Turkeys may be key to huge medical breakthrough

The turkey commonly plays host to a particularly "good" bacteria - one that could create a potentially life-saving antibiotic.

Antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria pose a very real threat to the world. Now a team of researchers has identified a new natural antibiotic in horse dung-dwelling fungus, offering up secrets that might help us avoid or at least understand an encroaching AMR world crisis.

That's at least according to a study recently published in the Journal of Bacteriology which details how the MP1 antibiotic is produced by a bacteria commonly referred to as "Strain 115."

MP1 has been known to target roughly half of all infectious bacteria that affect humans, even the causes of staph infection, strep throat, and several gastrointestinal diseases. Researchers have known that strain 115 can be found in turkeys, and has been keeping the birds healthy on farms for years.

The team of scientists claim to have discovered how this "good" bacteria strain produces the mysterious antibiotic - a process that could potentially help experts craft a similar functioning antibiotic in humans.

The research team used mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to identify exactly how Strain 115 makes MP1 without killing itself in the process, as the antibiotic should normally attack the strain as well.

The team found that when producing MP1, the bacteria also produces a protective plasmid, effectively shielding it from its own medicine.

Griffitts and his team are trying to see if a similar mechanism can be crafted to work in humans, which would be a life-saving boon in a world where traditional antibiotics are becoming increasingly useless.

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