A bacteria which colonises the human nose produces a previously unknown antibiotic that may combat multiresistant pathogens such as MRSA.
Scientists at the University of Tubingen and the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF) discovered that Staphylococcus lugdunensis in our nose produces the antibiotic.
As tests on mice have shown, the substance which has been named Lugdunin is able to combat multiresistant pathogens, where many classic antibiotics have become ineffective.
Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria – like the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which colonises on human skin – are among the leading causes of death worldwide.
The natural habitat of harmful Staphylococcus bacteria is the human nasal cavity.
In their experiments, researchers observed that Staphylococcus aureus is rarely found when Staphylococcus lugdunensis is present in the nose.
“Normally antibiotics are formed only by soil bacteria and fungi. The notion that human microflora may also be a source of antimicrobial agents is a new discovery,” said Professor Andreas Peschel, from Interfaculty Institute for Microbiology and Infection Medicine Tubingen (IMIT).
In future studies, scientists will examine whether Lugdunin could actually be used in therapy. One potential use is introducing harmless Lugdunin-forming bacteria to patients at risk from MRSA as a preventative measure.
Researchers closely examined the structure of Lugdunin and discovered that it consists of a previously unknown ring structure of protein blocks and thus establishes a new class of materials.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem for physicians.
As many of the pathogens are part of human microflora on skin and mucous membranes, they cannot be avoided.
Particularly for patients with serious underlying illnesses and weakened immune systems they represent a high risk – these patients are easy prey for the pathogens.
The research was published in the journal Nature.