Soil could hold superbug cure

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Garden soil could hold the key to the development of new drugs to treat super-bugs including MRSA, researchers believe.

Garden soil could hold the key to the development of new drugs to treat super-bugs including MRSA, researchers believe.

Bacteria in soil produce 70 per cent of antibiotics already, but the researchers think new technology could help them find many more.

Paul Dyson, co-ordinator of a multimillion-pound project to use developments in genetics to produce the new antibiotics, said: "We now have a much better understanding of the soil micro-organisms we use to develop the antibiotics.

"We can look at them in a much more detailed way, and they produce many more types of antibiotics than we initially thought. The project wants to exploit these to their full extent."

Dr Dyson described the new project as an "arms race", saying: "This problem has been developing over the past 15 to 20 years and has culminated in dangerous diseases like MRSA, which are resistant to virtually all the antibiotics available to us.

"The pressure is on, but we are hopeful we will find new antibiotics. If everything goes well we should have some new antibiotics by the end of the five-year project." The over-use of existing antibiotics has led to the spread of infections such as MRSA, which do not respond to available treatments, he said.

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