The solution to one of the big issues of world health, i.e. the growing resistance to antibiotics by many types of bacteria, may also come from the sea and, specifically, from sponges. Researchers of the Florida Atlantic University (US) are persuaded as such. For over 30 years they have collected – with appropriate submarines and other techniques – these and other marine organisms along the US East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the European and African deep waters, creating a huge biological archive, called Harbor Branch Marine Microbial Collection (this “collection” contains as many as 19,000 different kind of marine microorganisms, 11,000 of which are found more than 45 meters deep). Now researchers have decided to concentrate their attention, specifically, on 50 strains of actinomycetes, taken from marine sponges – almost all rare, among the approximately 1,000 present in the biological archive – and they have grown them in lab (the actinomycetes are bacteria living in many different environments, even out of sea, and contain molecules already used today producing a large number of antibiotics).
According to the scientific journal Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers then put the 50 strains of actinomycetes in contact with some of the most feared bacterial species, such as clostridium difficile, methicillin resistant staphylococcus, candida albicans and others, together with some salts, specifically added to trigger particular reactions. They discovered that in about one out of two cases it was possible to highlight an antibacterial activity (previously unknown) of actinomycetes, with a very powerful effect directed towards more than one type of microorganism.
“Marine natural products are an increasingly interesting source of new anti-infective agents,” said Peter McCarthy, a professor at Florida Atlantic University. We are working to identify new molecules and potentials, new drugs ».
Journalist since 1983, has been dealing with scientific divulgation for years, especially in the fields of medicine and biology. Creator of Sportello Cancro, the site created by corriere.it on oncology, in collaboration with the Umberto Veronesi Foundation. He collaborated with the pages of the Science of Corriere della Sera for several years. He is currently President of the Lugano Science Foundation.