University of California researchers have determined that some naturally occurring human-resident bacteria can and do produce substances which have drug-like properties — though more research is required before they can determine the exact properties and effects of those drugs.
“Bacteria that normally live in and upon us have genetic blueprints that enable them to make thousands of molecules that act like drugs, and some of these molecules might serve as the basis for new human therapeutics,” stated a press release from the University of California at San Francisco. The team’s research was published in the journal Cell.
In their preliminary study, the team found that, “remarkably,” the capacity to produce drug-like antibiotics in particular was widespread among human microbiota. They even isolated one “previously unknown antibiotic” being produced from a common vaginal bacterium. “Our findings illustrate the widespread distribution of small-molecule-encoding BGCs in the human microbiome, and they demonstrate the bacterial production of drug-like molecules in humans,” they concluded.
“We used to think that drugs were developed by drug companies, approved by the FDA, and prescribed by physicians, but we now think there are many drugs of equal potency and specificity being produced by the human microbiota,” said Michael Fischbach of the UCSF School of Pharmacy in the press release.
The findings add to research previously reported on MIA of the influence of common gut microbiota on moods.
Our Microbes Are a Rich Source of Drugs, UCSF Researchers Discover (University of California – San Franciso Press Release on Newswise, September 5, 2014)
A Systematic Analysis of Biosynthetic Gene Clusters in the Human Microbiome Reveals a Common Family of Antibiotics (Donia, Mohamed S et al. Cell. September 11, 2014. Volume 158, Issue 6, p1402–1414. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2014.08.032)
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