Good news, everybody! Scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotics. Well, not so much discovered as finally got off their lazy asses and tried doing something other than growing things in a petri dish. How amazing is this discovery? Well, it’s been almost 30 years since the last discovery and it’s been getting pretty scary out there in the medicine world as the current batch of antibiotics gets less and less effective.
The new antibiotic, called texiobactin, has been known to scientists, but has been largely ignored because it doesn’t grow well inside a petri dish. In order to grow texiobactin, scientists had to get a little dirty. Literally. Like, in the real use of the word literally, not in the purloined use that actually means figuratively. Scientists have to get texiobatin from the dirt! They do this by using an incredibly clever device with an incredibly unclever name called the iChip. If I understand it correctly, the iChip works kind of like a sorting device. It lets in only a specific type of bacteria, in the case of texiobactin that would be eleftheria terrae. You put some eleftheria terrae in the chamber of the iChip and then you bury it in soil where the bacteria grows. The iChip then allows more eleftheria terrae into the chamber as it grows around the device.
So far, scientists have discovered as many as 25 different bacteria that show promise using this method. Of them, the eleftheria terrae/texiobactin one shows the most promise. As with most brand new discoveries, there is a bit of hyperbole involved. People involved are saying that this new antibiotic should stay effective for 30 years or more. That’s all fine and good, I’m sure, under normal circumstances, but in our over-prescriptive society, I’d give it 10-15 years tops before bacterial immunities to the antibiotic start to appear. Maybe we’ll have learned our lesson by then and slowed down our antibiotic addiction.
Of course, the usual caveats apply; this is a new discovery, these things take time, sometimes what seems promising turns out to be a dud, blah, blah, blah. Still, this has the feel of practicality to it so my powers of prognostication give it a 75% chance of coming to fruit. Let’s hope.