Native Fungi Could Hold The Answer To Antibiotic Resistance

Native Fungi Could Hold The Answer To Antibiotic Resistance – 8th May, 2017

New Zealand’s native fungi could hold the answer to antibiotic resistance crisis

Amid growing concern over the need to combat antibiotic resistance – considered one of the greatest public health threats of the modern age – a campaign has been launched to determine if a collection of fungi, unique to New Zealand and the Pacific, could hold the key to discovering new antibiotics.

Cure Kids, the nation’s leading charitable funder of child health research, kicks off its ‘Fight Against Superbugs’ crowdfunding campaign today.

“Countries all around the world have been asked to act now. New Zealand may be a small nation, but our native fungi and our unique biodiversity could provide an answer to this global problem. If we don’t act now and discover new medicines, it is predicted that within a generation, antibiotic resistance will overtake cancer as the leading cause of premature death worldwide,” says Cure Kids Research Director Tim Edmonds.

Each year, an estimated 700,000 people around the world die from drug-resistant infections, and this is predicted to rise to 10 million people a year by 2050.

The ‘Fight Against Superbugs’ campaign aims to raise $250,000 to support pioneering research by scientists at the University of Auckland who will study fungi from a collection by Landcare Research. Fungi are a proven source of antibiotics, such as penicillin, and most antibiotics in clinical use are from soil microbes.

 Microbiologist, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University, and her team aim to mine 1000 prioritised fungi from the collection of 10,000 over the next 12 months to identify pathogen-fighting properties.

The results of the work to date are promising – Dr Wiles’ team have piloted the approach, screening 300 fungi, using a cultivated form of bacteria that’s been engineered to glow when alive. When the bacteria stop glowing, it signals potential antimicrobial qualities in the fungi which then undergo more tests.

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