center for systems

& synthetic biology

an NIGMS national systems biology center


Discovery of Novel Antibiotics Produced in Human Microbiota

September 11, 2014

 In today's issue of Cell, Center Investigator Michael Fischbach and group have identified a novel antibiotic, Lactocillin, isolated from a bacterium naturally found in the human microbiome.


Since almost a third of all medicines are isolated from plants or microbes, Fischbach's group has hypothesized that those species which cohabitate inside the human body may be responsible for production of antibiotics that ward off many pathogens. Using a bioinformatic approach, they scanned the genetic sequences from an extensive data set collected on human-associated bacterial samples and have identified around 3000 gene clusters which likely produce antibiotic-like compounds. One of those has since been verified -- lactocillin, from the vaginal microbe Lactobacillis gasseri, which has been shown as toxic to the common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus.




Commentaries and perspectives on this work can be found at UCSF News, Nature, and the New York Times.