Turning to dirt for antibiotics in the fight against superbugs
Antibiotic-resistant microbes, commonly called superbugs, have become a major health problem across the world. More than 2.8 million infections happen every year in the United States alone; more than 35,000 people will die from those infections.
The answer for an infection is often antibiotics. Or stronger antibiotics.
But we’re not the original inventor of this class of compounds — for time immemorial, antibiotics have been deployed by the microbes themselves. Microbes, such as the myriad species of fungi, bacteria and other critters that live in the soil, live in a complex ecosystem where chemical defenses are often necessary in order to fend off or attack competitors. In fact, soil was actually one of the great historical sources for new antibiotics.
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