01/09/2015

Sifting Soils for New Approaches to Antibiotics

6:27 minutes

Many of today’s commercial antibiotic compounds were first discovered in soil-dwelling microorganisms. In a biological arms race, pathogens have developed resistance to those common antibiotics, leaving fewer options for doctors and patients. Microbiologist Kim Lewis and colleagues report this week in the journal Nature that they’ve been able to grow colonies of previously uncultured microorganisms from the soil, and have harvested from them a new type of antibiotic they call teixobactin—a compound that they say has both broad activity against a variety of gram-positive pathogens and the potential to remain an effective treatment for years to come.

Segment Guests

Kim Lewis

Kim Lewis is University Distinguished Professor and director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center at the Department of Biology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Meet the Producer

About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.