Federal dollars led to antibiotics breakthrough
Boston Globe - 01/19/2015
It was the alchemists’ old dream to create gold from dross. Now microbiologists from Boston and Bonn, Germany, may have come up with the medical equivalent — a potentially breakthrough antibiotic derived from microbes dwelling in plain old New England dirt.
It will be at least two years before the antibiotic is ready for clinical trials on humans, but the work, reported this month in the journal Nature, was a rare flash of good news in an increasingly desperate struggle against pathogens that have developed resistance to most conventional antibiotics.
The researchers, led by Northeastern University’s Kim Lewis, have devised a promising method for cultivating microbes from soil by isolating them in a device, called an iChip, then embedding them in the same nutrient-rich muck from a meadow in Maine. These microbes, in turn, can be milked for compounds capable of destroying disease-causing bacteria.