Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have thoroughly investigated the efficacy of the bacteria living on insects and believe it has great promise.
They highlight the discovery of a new antibiotic from the Cyphomyrmex ant, a brazilian species.This new antibiotic is called cyphomycin.
In extensive resting, cyphomycin was effective against fungi that was resistant to many other antibiotics. It was effective against fungal infections in mice without any side effects.
Bacteria: Antibiotic Resistance A Serious Threat
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem, worldwide. It happens when bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens continue to grow and spread despite persistent antibiotic treatment.
Infections due to drug resistance require longer hospital stays and a more follow ups. Moreover, there are greater side effects and higher costs.
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) released data that confirmed the seriousness of the global threat that antibiotic resistance poses. Bottom line is that several common infections are now drug resistant.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect at least 2 million people and cause 23,000 deaths each year.
The biggest concern is is that the current antibiotic resistance will persist even against the new conventionally manufactured antibiotics.
For example, according to the CDC, 51 new antibiotics developed in 2017 were only moderately effective on a short-term basis.
Bacteria: Why Are Today’s Antibiotics Ineffective?
The majority of today’s antibiotics come from Streptomyces strains. Genetic studies show that Streptomyces can produce a huge number of compounds. But, the problem is that the new compounds come from similar gene sets and therefore drug resistance is a given.
On the other hand, bacteria from insects can yield over 10,000 strains.
Bacteria: Drugs Derived From Insects, The New Frontier
The Wisconsin researchers found that bacteria strains that came from insects were significantly more powerful compared to strains that came from soil and plants. For example, the dangerous super-bug MRSA which is resistant to methicillin, was neutralized by an insect bacteria derived antibiotic.
In addition, cyphomycin was effective in treating Candida albicans mice. C. albicans infects people, especially senior citizens with weak immune systems. There were few toxic side effects.
The Wisconsin research is promising and bodes well for future effective antibiotic treatments.