The Human Nose Might Harbor an Antibiotic to Stop Staph Infections
August 22, 2016 Leave a comment
The human body is a marvel. In addition to all the obvious stuff, like being the only truly bipedal creatures on the planet and using symbolic language and all that, apparently we also contain bacteria in our noses that could be useful in combating one of the deadliest forms of bacteria. According to German researchers from the University of Tübingen, Staphylococcus lugdunensis (found in the human nose) can be used as an antibiotic, fighting off other forms of Staphylococcus that are responsible for MRSA infections.
This is incredibly good news, considering that an increasing number of diseases are becoming resistant to antibiotics. It’s a growing problem (no pun intended), and some scientists estimate that antibiotic-resistant infections could cause more deaths than cancer in the coming decades.
But not everyone carries S. lugdunensis. Only about 9% of people carry the beneficial microbes in their nostrils. Meanwhile, about 30% of humans harbor harmful, life-threatening S.aureus bacteria in their noses. Doctors and researchers are already looking into developing nasal sprays and other pharmaceuticals to treat patients who don’t naturally carry S. lugdunensis.
Kim Lewis, an unaffiliated molecular microbiologist from Northeastern University, weighed in on the recent discovery. “The study shows for the first time that a member of the human microbiome eliminates a pathogen by releasing an antimicrobial compound.”
But S. lugdunensis is a first in that it contains a different molecular structure than scientists are used to seeing in antibiotics. Close examination revealed that lugdunin is a cyclic peptide consisting of thiazolidine and five amino acids. It is also larger than what biologists are used to seeing.
“It’s really the first human-associated bacterium where the whole species is able to produce such an antibiotic,” stated Bernhard Krismer, a co-author of the study.
The University of Tübingen has already applied for a patent for the new antibiotic, but scientists agree that it’s still many years away from being used in medicine.