Scientists have isolated a compound from a marine sponge that has been shown to fight the pervasive MRSA superbug bacteria. "Superbugs" are bacteria that are impervious to some or even all antibiotics — and are responsible for thousands of deaths each year. There were more than 11,000 deaths last year alone from MRSA infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The compound is an extraction from a deep-water marine specimen that thrives near the Bahamas. The researchers — from Florida Atlantic Univeristy's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute — have named the antibiotic extraction "dragmacidin G" and have tested it effective against pancreatic cancer cells as well.
The sponge belongs to a group of sponges called spongorsorites and have long captured the interest of marine scientists for their possible contribution to medicinal study.
“Sponges of the genus Spongosorites . . . are reported to have a variety of activities including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiplasmodial, cytotoxic as well as anti-inflammatory activities,” said Amy Wright, Ph.D., lead author and a research professor at Harbor Branch. She directs the drug discovery program for the institute. “We found substantial antibacterial activity for dragmacidin G. It is greater than 10-fold more potent than other [such candidates for study] while retaining selectivity towards bacterial over mammalian cells.”
Wright and her colleagues were excited over the prospect of ending MRSA's reign over conventional antibiotics. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria are resistant to methicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and amoxicillin.
The researchers are planning further studies based on these very encouraging preliminary results.
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