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Medicine

Italian Soil Yields a New Antibiotic That Can Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria

The new discovery shows promise in helping to treat the millions of Americans infected each year with antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

A A ntibiotic-resistant superbugs are one of the biggest public health menaces right now, infecting at least 2 million Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 23,000 people die annually as a result of those infections, the agency estimates.
Structure of bacterial RNA polymerase, showing the binding sites for the new antibiotic pseudouridimycin (PUM) and the current antibacterial drug rifampin (Rif). PUM has a lower resistance rate and a smaller resistance target than Rif — just 2 to 4 positions where alterations that result in PUM-resistance (blue) vs. 27 positions where alterations result in Rif-resistance (red) — due to functional constraints on alteration of the binding site for PUM in the RNA polymerase active center. | David Degen and Richard H. Ebright, Rutgers University