New antibiotic could kill superbugs

The drug, named teixobactin, was isolated from soil bacteria using a revolutionary technique that may in future yield a rich harvest of previously hidden antibiotic compounds.

It has the ability to kill many types of harmful bacteria, including the superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), by breaking down their cell walls.

Because it targets fatty molecules in the cell wall instead of proteins it is also much less likely than most antibiotics to induce microbial resistance.

In tests, US scientists found no evidence of bugs evolving ways to cheat death by teixobactin, which proved harmless to mammalian cells.

Professor Kim Lewis, from Northeastern University in Boston, who led the US team, said the discovery was exciting.

“No resistance normally means that we discovered a new detergent, which is a molecule that will destroy the membrane of the bacterial cell but also will destroy the membranes