Can a New Bacteriocin Thwart Antibiotic Resistance?

November 22, 2023
Can a New Bacteriocin Thwart Antibiotic Resistance image

Romsacin, which is found in a very common skin bacterium, may inhibit the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A new bacteriocin in a very common skin bacterium may inhibit the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, new research suggests.

The research group for child and youth health at UiT The Arctic University of Norway has studied bacteriocins that the bacteria themselves produce to inhibit the growth of competitors.  Through the work, they have discovered a new bacteriocin, in a very common skin bacterium. Bacteriocin inhibits the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can be difficult to treat with common antibiotics.

The researchers have called the new bacteriocin Romsacin, after the Sami name for Tromsø, Romsa. The hope is that Romsacin can be developed into a new medicine for infections for which there is currently no effective treatment.

Runa Wolden at the Department of Clinical Medicine at UiT emphasizes that there is a long way to go before it is known whether Romsacin will be developed and taken into use as a new medicine. 

"This discovery is the result of something we have been researching for several years. Developing Romsacin - or other promising substances - into new antibiotics is very expensive and can take 10-20 years", says Wolden, who is part of the The research group for child and youth health, in a news release.

. Currently, researchers do not know how the bacteriocin works in humans. A further process will involve comprehensive testing, bureaucracy and marketing.

"This naturally means that there is a long way to go before we can say anything for sure. What we already know, however, is that this is a new bacteriocin, and that it works against some types of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. It's exciting", says Wolden.

The new bacteriocin is produced by a bacterium called Staphylococcus haemolyticus. The bacteriocin is not produced by all S. haemolyticus, but by one of the 174 isolates that the researchers have available in the freezer.

"We couldn't know that before we started the project, and that's one of the things that makes research fun", says Wolden.

She says that ten years ago the researchers collected bacterial samples from healthy people when they wanted to compare S. haemolyticus in healthy people with those found in patients in hospital.

"Subsequently, we have done many experiments with these bacteria, and this is the result from one of our projects", says Wolden.

PHOTO CAPTION: Runa Wolden in the lab at UiT. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Jørn Berger-Nyvoll/UiT

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