Spelunking in Search of Antibiotics | Daily 360


We now have a crisis, an antibiotic
resistant crisis, you know, on our hands. Lots of bacteria, basically, became
resistant and became harder to kill. I would like to look at the
type of bacteria that lives in very rare
and extreme habitats. And I would like to see whether these
type of bacteria could be our new drug producers. From our experience studying a number
of different caves in western Canada, this cave is very unique in the fact that the mineral content
in the bedrock is iron. To find a truly new and effective
molecule that can fight against these antibiotic resistant bacteria, you need to find a different
source of the bacteria. We looked at the different types
of decorations or speleothems to see whether we can find
rare bacteria from these. Because when you think about
it, these structures they are just purely mineral
and might have organic nutrients
for microbial life. If we don’t have new drugs, people can
just have these unnecessary deaths from infections that used
to be treatable before. What we are doing right now can take
a minimum of 10 years and up to 25 years and can take a billion dollars
for one antibiotic. So right now, basically, it’s just
the first step of drug discovery.

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