‘Superbug killers’ discovered

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PH researchers find potent microbes in marine sediment

A research project funded by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) has discovered microbes in ocean floor sediments that can kill aggressive, antibiotic-resistant pathogens or “superbugs.”

Marine microbes as seen under a microscope. PHOTO: UNIVERSITÉ LIBRE DE BRUXELLES

The increase in superbugs, which is in large part caused by the overuse of antibiotics, is considered a serious health issue. As one example of the severity of the problem, the US Centers for Disease Control estimated last year that in the US alone, various superbugs infected two million people per year, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths.

NRCP researcher Doralyn S. Dalisay led the team that discovered the potential cure among microbes naturally present in marine sediments. The team created a “microbial library” to cultivate the microorganisms. Extracts from the library showed strong inhibitory activities against a panel of test pathogenic drug-resistant bacteria and fungi.

Doralyn S. Dalisay. PHOTO: NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE PHILIPPINES

“The findings are quite promising and if more microorganisms like these will be discovered and tested, this [endeavor]will place the Philippines in the global frontiers of medical and therapeutic research,” Dalisay said during a presentation of the research in Iloilo City.

Dalisay is a research scientist at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo.

“The highly biodiverse marine microorganisms thriving in the sediments surrounding the Philippine archipelago have not been investigated well with regard to their potential for developing products that are of interest in biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences,” she added.

The NRCP explained that the first and second phases of the research program are focused on isolating marine sediment-derived microorganisms, determining their biogeographical distribution in the Philippines, and investigating their antimicrobial properties.

The third, more advanced phase of the research will focus on evaluating the microbes’ anticancer potential and performing genomic analysis to establish relationships between metabolite biosynthesis potential, taxonomy, and the habitats and locations from which the isolates originate.

These research efforts will prioritize isolates for future investigations and provide a road map for guiding future natural products discovery efforts, NRCP said.

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