Scientists are coming to a consensus: it is only a matter of time before an antibiotic-resistant super-bug rises to epidemic, if not pandemic levels. The misuse of current antibiotics by patients and inappropriate prescription by doctors has driven the evolution of infectious diseases towards antibiotic resistance. Beyond appropriate use and application of current antibiotics, new drugs will be required to meet this need. Few new antibiotics are in development, and those that do prove useful are often simply variants within existing classes of antibiotics. Unfortunately, this approach merely delays the inevitable as developing resistance within a class of antibiotics is a trivial evolutionary step. Researchers from the University of Tϋbingen however have taken a novel approach to antibiotic discovery, investigating the existing human microbiota. This approach has revealed a class of antibiotics found in the nasal passages of humans, non-ribosomally synthesized by Staphylococcus lugdunensis. The new antibiotic, a cyclic peptide which includes thiazolidine, has been coined “lugdunin”. Much excitement surrounds this new discovery as the commensal bacteria from which it comes is in constant competition with a common foe, S. aureus. Beyond the apparent broad bactericidal capacity against major pathogens, its ability to significantly decrease S. aureus colonization despite constant exposure suggests that evolutionary escape towards resistance is somehow avoided. Therefore, adding lugdunin to our antibiotic arsenal may push back the seemingly inevitable emergence of a superbug, as well as demonstrate the value in the practice of mining our microbiome for novel antibiotics.
Zipperer, et. al. Human commensals producing a novel antibiotic impair pathogen colonization 28 j u ly 2016 | VO L 535 | NAT U RE | 511