MEDICINE Human antibiotic discovered

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The Independent Online
It's not quite penicillin - the antibiotic produced by fungi - but it turns out that human skin produces its own natural antibiotic, which helps protect the body from infection by some common bacteria. The chemical, discovered by German researchers and named human beta-defensin- 2 (hBD-2), could be an important step in the war against bacteria, which are rapidly acquiring resistance to existing antibiotics.

Jens Schroeder and colleagues at the University of Kiel found that the antibiotic was very effective against common bacteria like E coli - commonly found in the gut, though one strain can cause severe food poisoning - and the infectious yeast Candida albicans.

Charles Arthur

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