London, Dec 31 (PTI) Scientists have discovered a strain of bacteria in Irish soil that can effectively fight superbugs resistant to antibiotics. Also Read - Aditya Narayan's Baraat Pics And Videos: Singer Dons White Sherwani, Bride Shweta Agarwal Looks Stunning

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the problem of antibiotic resistant superbugs as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today”. Also Read - Farmers Protest: Delhi-Noida Link Road Closed, Delhi Traffic Police Issued Advisory | Check Here

The strain, named Streptomyces sp myrophorea, was discovered by a team based in Swansea University in the UK. Also Read - Australia vs India 3rd ODI in Canberra: Likely Playing XIs, Pitch Report, Toss Timing, Squads, Weather Forecast For 3rd ODI

The soil they analysed originated from an area of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, which is known as the Boho Highlands. It is an area of alkaline grassland and the soil is reputed to have healing properties.

The search for replacement antibiotics to combat multi-resistance has prompted researchers to explore new sources, including folk medicines: a field of study known as ethnopharmacology. They are also focusing on environments where well-known antibiotic producers like Streptomyces can be found.

One of the research team, Dr Gerry Quinn, a previous resident of Boho, County Fermanagh, had been aware of the healing traditions of the area for many years.

Traditionally a small amount of soil was wrapped up in cotton cloth and used to heal many ailments including toothache, throat and neck infections. This area was previously occupied by the Druids, around 1500 years ago, and Neolithic people 4,000 years ago.

The main findings of the research were that the newly-identified strain of Streptomyces inhibited the growth of four of the top six multi-resistant pathogens identified by the WHO as being responsible for healthcare-associated infections: Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Klebsiella pneumonia, and Carbenepenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumanii The bacteria also inhibited both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, which differ in the structure of their cell wall; usually gram negative bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics.

It is not yet clear which component of the new strain prevents the growth of the pathogens, but the team are already investigating this.

“This new strain of bacteria is effective against 4 of the top 6 pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA. Our discovery is an important step forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance,” said Paul Dyson of Swansea University.

“Our results show that folklore and traditional medicines are worth investigating in the search for new antibiotics. Scientists, historians and archaeologists can all have something to contribute to this task. It seems that part of the answer to this very modern problem might lie in the wisdom of the past,” said Dyson.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.