A promising new drug is being developed with a natural product secreted by a soil bacterium to treat tuberculosis.
A team of scientists working in Switzerland has shown how pyridomycin, a natural antibiotic produced by the bacterium Dactylosporangium fulvum, works.
This promising drug candidate is active against many of the drug-resistant types of the tuberculosis bacterium that no longer respond to treatment with the front-line drug isoniazid.
"Nature and evolution have equipped some bacteria with potent defense mechanisms to protect them against other bugs that share their habitat. Screening natural products generated by these organisms is therefore a powerful way to find possible new drugs to fight infectious diseases," Stewart Cole, lead author of the study, EMBO Member and a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, said.
"Using this approach we have shown that nature's antibiotic pyridomycin is a very selective killer of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis in humans.
"It is also active against mycobacteria that have developed resistance to front-line drug treatments such as isoniazid," he said.
Tuberculosis causes up to two million deaths annually.
The findings are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.