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Ocean Antibiotics

July 29, 2013

Researchers have discovered a compound in the Pacific Ocean that fights both staph infections and anthrax.


BOB HIRSHON (host): 
Medicine from the sea. I'm Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
(SFX: Ocean waves)
The Pacific Ocean, as seen from the International Space Station. (NASA)

With bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to available antibiotics, 
scientists are searching the ocean for new ones. Recently, they've discovered
a compound called anthracimycin, which kills the dangerous strain of Staph 
bacteria known as MRSA, as well as anthrax. Scripps Institution oceanographer
William Fenical explains.

WILLIAM FENICAL (Scripps Institution of Oceanography):
What's important about this discovery is that this does not belong to any
known class of antibiotics. 

That means pathogens like MRSA haven't had the chance to evolve resistance
to it yet. Anthracimycin needs further testing before it can be used in humans, 
but its discovery highlights the untapped potential of sea life as a source of 
future medicines. 

And these organisms represent an enormous resource when you consider the vastness 
of the ocean bottom.

I'm Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

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Story by Susanne Bard