Essay: Rate of discovery of new drugs

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  • Subject area(s): Medicine essays
  • Number of words: 1972
  • Price: Free download
  • File format: PDF
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Over the years, the rate of discovery of new drugs has declined significantly, leading to an urge to explore alternative environmental sources apart from the soil, for novel antibiotics. In this study, water samples were collected from different places around Bath and they were screened for antibacterial activity against six test bacteria. A total of 106 isolates were isolated and tested against methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) to confirm their antagonistic activity. 34 isolates showed promising inhibition and were further tested against bacteria which included MSSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Enterococcus faecium (E. faecium), Escherichia coli (E. coli), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Klebsiella pneumoniae (K. pneumoniae) through perpendicular streak test. The supernatant of the isolates was also extracted by centrifugation and assayed for its antibacterial activity. For E. coli-inhibiting isolates, further tests against strains of E. coli with different antibiotic resistance were performed to identify the types of antibiotics produced. 11 active isolates were effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in the perpendicular streak test. The supernatant of the isolates exhibited minimal antibacterial activity. Following the results of 16S rRNA sequencing, two active isolates belonged to Pseudomonas species while the other three isolates were classified as Bacillus species. Isolate 107 was identified as Bacillus pumilus and it demonstrated the strongest inhibition against MSSA, MRSA, E. faecium and E. coli with a zone of inhibition of 20.8mm, 24.3mm, 16.2mm and 13.6mm respectively. Moreover, isolates 18 and 107 both had strong activity against all strains of E. coli tested, while isolate 71 was only active against four strains of E. coli tested, suggesting that one of the antibiotics produced may be kanamycin. Our findings indicate that aquatic environment is a potent source for the isolation of bioactive microorganism potential for the production of antibacterial compounds.

1. Introduction

Microbes play an essential role in the production of antibiotics, antifungal as well as antiviral infections and this role is expanding each day (1). Owing to their ability to produce useful secondary metabolites, microbes have contributed greatly in the development of pharmaceutical industry and the control of many medical conditions as they are now widely used as antitumour drugs, immunosuppressants, enzyme inhibitors, and in many other applications (1). Back in 1928, Alexander Fleming found a compound produced by a mould, which was later identified as Penicillium notatum, had the capability of killing the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus in his laboratory. The active compound was known as penicillin, a beta-lactam antibiotic, and it was used massively as a potent antimicrobial drug during World War II (1). This discovery has marked the beginning of the microbial drug era as many useful antibiotics have since been isolated from soil bacteria, for instance, streptomycin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline (2). These antibiotics produced have had remarkable biological activities to human beings, to illustrate, streptomycin was the first active drug against tuberculosis whereas chloramphenicol was the drug of choice for typhoid fever (3-5).

The soil is incontestably a rich reservoir that allows the screening of drug compounds as it can harbour an

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