A method that was originally designed to identify and characterize new antibiotics can be employed to screen natural products quickly for compounds capable of controlling antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to a study published in the Journal of Antibiotics.

University of California, San Diego researchers wrote in the paper that their latest research could permit chemists and others to understand how mixtures of potential antibiotics from microorganisms work without first purifying them. It builds on a development 2 years ago of a new way to rapidly identify new compounds capable of killing bacteria.

The UC San Diego biologists noted that their method could change how natural product antibiotic discovery teams guide their studies. With traditional methods, understanding how an antibiotic works requires purified or at least partially purified molecules.


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“Our new method represents the first time that the mechanism by which one microbial strain kills another can be determined without purifying the molecules involved,” Poochit Nonejuie, a postdoctoral fellow in biology who is also a co-author of the paper, said in a prepared statement about the findings.

The researchers noted that they are looking for new antibiotics from unique collections of microbes to find those that are active against antibiotic resistant bacteria.

This technology is being commercialized by Linnaeus Bioscience Inc, which allows the pharmaceutical industry access to the method.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AI095125 and AI113295).

Reference

1. Nonejuie P, Trial RM, Newton GL, et al. Application of bacterial cytological profiling to crude natural product extracts reveals the antibacterial arsenal of Bacillus subtilisJ Antibiot. 2015;doi:10.1038/ja.2015.116