At Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses research from PLOS Biology on the virtues of streptothricin F, an antibiotic found in soil He writes:
A 2023 paper1 published in PLOS Biology extolled the virtues of streptothricin F, a long-forgotten antibiotic researchers believe is effective against gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria are behind the growth of antibiotic resistance, which has become a major public health threat worldwide.
The primary cause for this man-made epidemic is the misuse of antibiotics.2 Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a significant threat to those who acquire sepsis, a life-threatening condition that’s triggered by a systemic infection and ultimately affects the function of your vital organs. Sepsis is sometimes called blood poisoning, and according to Sepsis Alliance, “is one of the most significant health complications that can result from antimicrobial resistance.”3
It is important to note4 that more than 1.5 million people in the U.S. get sepsis each year and at least 350,000 die from it. As many as half of all patients who died in the hospital have sepsis, which is among the most expensive conditions to treat. As the researchers of the featured study note:5
“… high-throughput screening efforts to identify novel antimicrobials using synthetic chemical libraries with rare exceptions have been nonproductive. As a result, there is a significant antimicrobial discovery void.
Moreover, there is little doubt that resistance will emerge to agents currently in the pipeline. We are therefore clearly in need of several new gram-negative agents that are unique in terms of antimicrobial class and potential vulnerabilities, and which can diversify our antimicrobial therapeutic portfolio.”
Soil-Dwelling Bacteria May Fill Antimicrobial Discovery Void
Recognizing the rapid emergence of antimicrobial resistance and the dearth of new discoveries in the field, a collaborative group of researchers from several medical facilities including Harvard University, Beth Israel Deaconess, Case Western and Northeastern University began exploring the potential streptothricin F has against gram-negative bacteria.6
The antibiotic was isolated for the first time in the 1940s7 when the potential against gram-negative bacteria was recognized. Despite its potential, research was halted when an initial study determined it was too toxic on human kidneys. In 2017,8 the World Health Organization published a list of pathogens they considered of the highest priority that were antibiotic-resistant and posed the greatest threat to mankind.
The majority on that list were gram-negative bacterial pathogens that are responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality worldwide. “Now with the emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens, for which there are few if any active antibiotics available for treatment, it is time to revisit and explore the potential of what we have previously overlooked,” pathologist James Kirby from Harvard University told ScienceAlert in May.9
The form of the antibiotic studied was Nourseothricin, which is created by gram-positive soil bacteria. The product is a mixture of antibiotics, including streptothricin F and streptothricin D. Nourseothricin and streptothricin D both demonstrated toxic effects on kidney cells in a petri dish. However, fractionated streptothricin F was not toxic in the lab or animals. Additionally, it remained highly effective at killing gram-negative bacteria that have proven antibiotic-resistant.
The researchers have not identified the mechanism that streptothricin F uses but the antibiotic appears to bind with the bacteria and cause dysfunction in a way that is different from other antibiotics. The team hopes to be able to figure out the mechanism to help develop medications that will kill highly resistant gram-negative bacteria, also known as superbugs. The researchers wrote:10
“In summary, we present data for compelling bactericidal activity of S-F against contemporary multidrug-resistant CRE and A. baumannii pathogens with in vivo confirmation of efficacy against an emblem of gram-negative antibiotic resistance.
We therefore believe that further early-stage exploration of the historic scaffold is warranted with the ultimate goal of identification of analogs with potential for therapeutic development.”
Read more here.
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