Cork scientists develop on arsenal of new natural alternatives to antibiotics

Posted on: 9th October, 2016

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Scientists at the APC Microbiome Institute, a Science Foundation Ireland research institute in Cork, have identified an arsenal of new antimicrobials, which can kill many harmful bacteria. The latest antimicrobial, called formicin, is a bacteriocin which is a small bacterially produced antimicrobial protein. The research on formicin has been picked up by the editor of the journal Microbiology where it is highlighted and published this week.

“Formicin was picked up in our most recent screening for new antimicrobials. We have identified 20 new small proteins to date including Thuricin and Lacticin 3147,” said Professor Paul Ross, who leads the research with Professor Colin Hill at the APC Microbiome Institute in University College Cork and Teagasc. “We have spun out a new company, Artugen Therapeutics, to further develop these compounds which have important implications for human and animal health.”

Antimicrobial resistance poses one of the biggest threats to global health today. According to the WHO (2015) antibiotic resistance in the European Union alone, is estimated to cause 25,000 deaths and cost more than US$1.5 billion every year in healthcare expenses and productivity losses. Without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections, many of the achievements of modern medicine such as organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous.

“The new antimicrobial, Formicin, was isolated from Bacillus paralichenformis APC1576, a bacteria which was originally isolated from the intestine of a mackerel” said Fergus Collins, the PhD student who discovered Formicin. “Formicin can kill a wide range of harmful bacteria..”

This research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland through a Research Centre grant to the APC Microbiome Institute.

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