Published: June 25, 2014
A lowly soil fungus from Nova Scotia has provided scientists with a powerful new weapon against some of the most alarming microbes on the planet.
A molecule, which a team at McMaster University plucked from the fungus, is enabling them to kill “superbugs” resistant to antibiotics.
The molecule, aspergillomarasmine A or AMA, latches on to a protein inside the bacteria and “rips out” zinc rendering the superbugs defenceless against powerful antibiotics it could previously resist, says microbiologist Gerry Wright, who heads the team in Hamilton, Ont.
Once they uncovered AMA, the researchers teamed up with a British microbiologist and showed the fungal extract had the same effect on more than 200 superbugs that have been causing misery around the world.
Then to underscore AMA’s promise, the researchers showed that by using the fungal compound in combination with an antibiotic protected lab mice infected with an otherwise lethal strain of resistant pneumonia.
Scientists says the findings, to be reported Thursday in the Journal Nature, offer hope in the battle against resistant bacteria causing growing international alarm. Continue reading