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Experts seek new antibiotics from flies

Experts seek new antibiotics from flies

If flies are happy gorging on dung and rotting flesh, they must surely have powerful inbuilt resistance to infection.
Following this theory, a team of Australian scientists is working to produce revolutionary new antibiotics, made from flies and other creepy crawlies, to replace the antibiotics that infections are rapidly developing resistance against.
"We ask the question, 'where would antimicrobials have evolved naturally'?" Macquarie University professor Andy Beattie told Reuters. "We're looking at something totally different."
This is the first time flies had been specifically targeted for pharmaceutical products, said Beattie, whose work is even drawing support from competitors.
Macquarie University's work was scientifically "perfectly valid," said Dr. Stephen Trowell, chief scientific officer of Entocosm Pty Ltd.
Entocosm, recently established by the Australian government-backed Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to produce a wide range of therapeutic drugs from the virtually untapped source of insects, was also producing "some very exciting results," he said.
Harvesting antibiotics from flies is one of many possibilities suggested by Beattie's targeted research approach.
He thought that insects which live in highly organized societies, like humans, might have stronger defense mechanisms.
Research proved him right. He now has a patent on antibiotics from bull ants, a large aggressive Australian ant.
On similar reasoning, spider webs, pieces of pure protein dangling in the air, may contain super defenses, he said.
So might nectar, which plants have to defend against contamination so they can attract pollinators.
"There's some evidence for that too," Beattie said.
Beattie is still waiting for a commercial go-ahead for his bull ant antibiotic. Whether it might be targeted against specific diseases or used as a general antiseptic would depend on drug companies, he said.
One of the great strengths of the research on flies was that it focused on entirely novel molecules, Beattie said.
"The problem with most of the antibiotics on the market is they're chemically related. Evolution of resistance to one means the evolution of cross-resistance," he said.
Entocosm says four million species of insects are a virtually untouched potential source of antibiotics, anti-cancer agents, blood thinners, and other therapeutic substances.


Updated : 2021-10-17 12:23 GMT+08:00