A new class of antibiotics has been discovered – and it was right under our noses all along.
The discovery led to the development of a drug known as lugdunin, which could be used to treat superbug infections.
Most antibiotics were first discovered in soil bacteria, and the last new class of drugs was discovered in the 1980s.
But the latest breakthrough comes from inside the human body, and could be useful for treating superbugs such as MRSA.
Scientists found that a bug called Staphylococcus aureus invades the noses of about 30% of people.
Curious to find out why the remaining 70% were bug free, they found that many of these people have a rival bug in their nostrils called Staphylococcus lugdunensis.
This bug produces an antibiotic that protects the carrier against the rival Staphylococcus aureus bug – which can include strains of MRSA.
A team from the University of Tubingen in Germany used various strains of genetically-modified Staphylococcus lugdunensis to uncover its genetic code.
This gave them the instructions for how to build a new antibiotic.
It comes at a crucial time – several medical authorities have warned that overuse of current antibiotics is allowing deadly bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella to mutate into drug-resistant strains.
Microbiologist Andreas Peschel said the discovery was “unexpected and exciting”.
The study was published in the most recent issue of the Nature journal.