Tackling Super-bugs (From the Daily Telegraph)
Drug-resistant superbugs are rising in the UK because of lack of regulation of antibiotics in developing countries, experts have warned.
Research into antibiotic use around the world reveals that while use in Britain slowed, global consumption jumped by 65 per cent, to 34.8bn daily doses between 2000 and 2015.
Soil from an area of Northern Ireland once populated by druids and known for its healing properties could be the source of a new class of antibiotic to be used in the fight against superbugs.
An international team from Swansea University has found a new strain of Streptomyces, a type of gram negative bacterium that grows in various environments around the world and has been used in the development of many antibiotics such as streptomycin.
The researchers were looking for new ways to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistance which, according to a recent report, will kill 1.3 million people in Europe alone by 2050 if not tackled urgently.
Because of a lack of antibiotics in the development pipeline researchers are looking at new sources such as ancient cures, known as ethnopharmacology.
The international team of researchers, who published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, analysed soil from an area of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, known as the Boho Highlands. It is an area of alkaline grassland whose soil is reputed to have healing properties.
According to ancient tradition a small amount of soil was wrapped in cotton and placed next to the site of infection or put under the patient’s pillow for nine days. This technique was used to heal many ailments including toothache, throat and neck infections.
Although the exact origins of the cure are lost in the mists of time it is thought to have still been in use in the early to mid 1800s.