Scientists from University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy have pinpointed a vaginal bacterium that naturally plays a role in the organ’s defense, isolated and amplified its defense capabilities, and created an antibiotic that can kill harmful pathogens while sparing the bacteria that are an important part of the vagina’s bacterial environment, reported The Huffington Post.
“We used to think that drugs were discovered by drug companies and approved by the FDA and then prescribed by a physician, and then they get to you,” lead researcher and biologist Michael Fischbach, Ph.D. told The Huffington Post. “What this finding shows is that bacteria that live on and inside of us are mounting an end run around the process.”
The vaginal bacterium Lactobacillus gasseri was the basis of an antibiotic called lactocillin that can kill the pathogens that cause vaginal infections, but without wiping out the bacteria that coexist peacefully with the organ. Traditional antibiotics can have a scorched earth effect, wiping out all bacteria — even the good kinds — which can lead to more problems down the road.
A microbiome of over 100 trillion bacteria lives on and in each one of us, and most of them are either benign or even helpful. Fischbach’s research is some of the first to search for drug-producing bacteria within the human microbiome.
The need for new antibiotics is urgent; it’s estimated that at least two million people in the U.S. become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which results in 23,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study was published in the Sept. 11, 2014 issue of the journal Cell.
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h/t: The Huffington Post