The Guardian
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Researchers turn to seaweeds to develop new antibiotics




A research team from the University of Exeter, Exeter, South West England, are trying to use the antimicrobial properties of seaweeds from the country’s coastline to develop a new generation of antibiotics in a bid to fight the growing threat of resistant super-bugs.

A report released on Monday in London by the researchers noted that as the number of multidrug-resistant bacteria, also known as superbug, rises, there is an urgent need for new drugs that can be used to treat infections when others fail.

Michiel Vos, who led the study, said antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing global problem.

He said a previous World Health Organisation (WHO) report stated that it is “now a major threat to public health”.

Vos said findings have revealed that natural environments can be a rich source of antibiotics.

He said as a result of this scientists are trying to uncover properties that could form the basis for a new generation of antibiotics that can curb infections caused by superbugs, such as MRSA.

“Our early experiments have confirmed that seaweeds hold a diverse array of antimicrobial properties.

“Excitingly, some of these extracts are most effective against some of the more resistant and problematic bacteria and we are hoping our work will help to make the discovery of new drugs quicker and cheaper,” he said.

Vos noted that with its rich abundance of coastline and seaweed species, Cornwall, a coastal area in southwest Britain, is the perfect place for such research.

He said taking the ideas further the team would create a dedicated research project that can really shed light on the potential they were seeing.

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