Finding New Antibiotics in Unlikely Places

With the rise of so-called superbugs, bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics, humanity is in a race against time to find new ways of killing potentially deadly microorganisms. Some scientists think that looking to our own biomes may be a great place to find new ways of killing off unwelcome bacteria:

“Microorganisms are the best chemists on the planet,” declared Michael A. Fischbach, a chemist himself at the University of California, San Francisco.

For evidence, Dr. Fischbach points to the many lifesaving drugs that microorganisms produce. In 1928, for example, Alexander Fleming discovered that mold wafting into his lab produced a bacteria-killing chemical that he dubbed penicillin.

Scientists today are still searching jungles, oceans and other corners of the world for microorganisms that make medicines. But in a new studypublished Thursday in the journal Cell, Dr. Fischbach and his colleagues suggest that we should also be looking inward.