New way to tap largest remaining source of potential antibiotics
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Scientists used a new technology to sift through the world’s largest remaining pool of potential antibiotics and discovered two new antibiotics that work against deadly, resistant microbes. The typical way of discovering new antibiotics involves identifying and growing new bacteria from soil and other environmental samples in culture dishes in the laboratory. That environmental treasure-trove is the largest remaining potential source of new antibiotics. Researchers then analyze the bacteria to see if they make substances that could be used as antibiotics to kill other microbes. But most bacteria found in nature can’t grow in the laboratory. So, the in the new method, researchers removed DNA from soil bacteria that wouldn’t grow in the lab and put this DNA into different bacteria that do grow well in culture dishes. These bacteria acted like incubators for the new DNA. With this “metagenomics” method, the researchers identified two new possible antibiotics.
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