Cave bacteria could lead to new antibiotics
Bacteria found in remote Siberian caves could lead to fresh sources of antibiotics needed in the fight against drug-resistant superbugs. Edward Baran from Reuters reports. Reporter, Reuters, Edward Baran <<< Early antibiotics were derived from microorganisms, mainly bacteria and fungi in soil, although they are manufactured today by chemical synthesis or bioengineering. But amid warnings about the declining efficacy of existing drugs, the race is on to find new solutions.
Caves near Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, the oldest lake on earth, have been identified as having great potential because they contain thousands of microorganisms which have not changed for millions of years and their eco-systems have been isolated from external influences.
"We work both with Siberian and Baikal region caves because many of the caves in Baikal region are older than the Baikal lake, over 30 million years old. Our research is dedicated to how the bacteria had formed and had been preserved for 30-40 million years and what they produce," said Denis Aksenov-Gribanov, senior researcher in Biology from Irkutsk State University.
The researchers already have a number of antibiotics at the final stages of development, using the new bacteria, and are working with scientific institutions and businesses in Russia.
Some are being used in chicken farming, but the hope is to eventually enter the human drugs industry, which is far more heavily regulated.