You may have heard about drugs disappearing into people’s noses. But at a meeting here this week and in a new paper, scientists presented the opposite: A new antibiotic that has, quite literally, emerged from the human nose. The compound is produced by one species of nose-dwelling bacterium to kill another microbe, which kills thousands of people every year.
The study is “yet another demonstration that we should look to nature for solutions to the problems nature throws at us,” says Andrew Read, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, who was not involved with the work.
Any new antibiotic is welcome because the world is running out of these life-saving drugs. But the researchers behind the new finding believe that studying the microbial warfare going on inside our bodies may lead to not just one, but a whole slew of novel drugs. “We’ve found a new concept of finding antibiotics,” Andreas Peschel, a bacteriologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, said on Tuesday at the EuroScience Open Forum, a biennial science and policy meeting. “We have preliminiary evidence at least in the nose that there is a rich source of many others, and I’m sure that we will find new drugs there.”