The human nose is packed with bacteria. Some of its inhabitants can sicken us, but yet other nose-dwellers may hold the key to fighting them off. Today, scientists announced the discovery of a new antibiotic produced by bacteria in human noses. Called lugdunin, the compound can combat Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA can cause a potentially life-threatening infection, and is resistant to some antibiotics.
Scientists ID’d the new antibiotic after swabbing people’s noses and culturing the different strains of bacteria they found. Among their menagerie were both MRSA (which lives in about 30 percent of people’s noses) and another bacterium (Staphylococcus lugdunensis) that killed it when the two were introduced. Its weapon, the team discovered, was lugdunin, which is the first member of a new class of antibiotics.
Lugdunin was effective against MRSA infections in mice, and rarely co-occurred with MRSA in people’s noses, the scientists reported in Nature. They did not see MRSA develop any resistance to lugdunin, although this would probably happen eventually. This doesn’t mean that lugdunin wouldn’t have its uses, and its discovery indicates that the human microbiome may be home to other new antibiotics.