Scientists have discovered a marine microbe-derived antibiotic that has the ability to kill the deadly Anthrax bacterium Bacillus anthracis and other pathogens such as the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Prof William Fenical with colleagues from the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography first collected Streptomyces sp. - a marine microorganism that produces the compound – in 2012 from sediments close to shore off Santa Barbara, California.
Using an analytical technique known as spectroscopy, they then deciphered the unusual structure of a molecule isolated from Streptomyces sp. Initial testing of the compound, which they named Anthracimycin, revealed its potency as a killer of anthrax and the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
“The real importance of this work is the fact that Anthracimycin has a new and unique chemical structure,” explained Prof Fenical, who is a senior author of a paper reporting the discovery in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
“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.”
“The discovery provides the latest evidence that the oceans, and many of its unexplored regions, represent a vast resource for new materials that could one day treat a variety of diseases and illnesses,” Prof Fenical concluded.
Bibliographic information: Kyoung Hwa Jang et al. 2013. Anthracimycin, a Potent Anthrax Antibiotic from a Marine-Derived Actinomycete. Angewandte Chemie, vol. 52, no 30, pages 7822–7824; doi: 10.1002/anie.201302749