Saturday September 21, 2019

Fish Mucus Offers Potential New Antibiotics

It would be interesting to figure out if anything in the mucus, which protects the fish, could actually help protect humans

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Around 334 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, and about a quarter of a million people die from it every year. Pixabay

With current antibiotics dwindling in effectiveness against multidrug-resistant pathogens, researchers have identified an untapped antibiotic candidate in the protective mucus that coats young fish.

The mucus contains bacteria with promising antibiotic activity against known pathogens-even dangerous organisms, such as the microbe that causes MRSA infections.

This viscous substance protects fish from bacteria, fungi, and viruses in their environment, trapping the microbes before they can cause infections. The slime is also rich in polysaccharides and peptides known to have antibacterial activity.

“Fish mucus is really interesting because the environment the fish live in is complex,” said Molly Austin, an undergraduate chemistry student at the Oregon State University.

“They are in contact with their environment all the time with many pathogenic viruses.”

The researchers will be presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2019 National Meeting and Exposition.

For the study, the mucus was swabbed from juvenile deep-sea and surface-dwelling fish caught off the Southern California coast. The team examined young fish because they have a less-developed immune system and more mucus on the outside of their scales that could contain a greater concentration of active bacteria than adult fish.

Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018.
Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018. VOA

They isolated and screened 47 different strains of bacteria from the slime.

Five bacterial extracts strongly inhibited methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), and three inhibited Candida albicans, a fungus pathogenic to humans.

A bacteria from mucus derived from a particular Pacific pink perch showed strong activity against MRSA and against a colon carcinoma cell line.

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The study could also help reduce the use of antibiotics in fish farming by leading to better antibiotics specifically targeted to the microbes clinging to certain types of fish.

While novel chemical reagents have been found in the human microbiome, the marine equivalent remains relatively unstudied.

It would be interesting to figure out if anything in the mucus, which protects the fish, could actually help protect humans. (IANS)

Next Story

WHO Launches Tool for Safer Use of Antibiotics, Curb Resistance

Its global initiative, so-called AWaRe campaign, is aimed at making decision and policymakers aware

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WHO, Tool, Antibiotics
FILE - This illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new tool to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Its global initiative, so-called AWaRe campaign, is aimed at making decision and policymakers aware of the appropriate and effective use of antibiotics for specific infections.

Antimicrobial resistance is growing because of the widespread abuse and misuse of antibiotics. The WHO considers antimicrobial resistance one of the most urgent health risks in the world. It warns a century of medical progress will be undone without accelerated action to contain rising resistance by making antibiotic use safer and more effective.

WHO assistant director general for access to medicines Mariangela Simao says pneumonia kills many children in developing countries because they do not get appropriate medication.

“More than almost a million deaths in developing countries is due to treatable bacterial diseases, which can in most cases be linked to the lack of access to antibiotics, or to wrong diagnostics, or to wrong prescriptions,” she said. “So, we, by launching this tool, WHO aims at narrowing the gap between excess use and access.”

WHO, Tool, Antibiotics
The World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new tool to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Pixabay

The tool is based on the WHO Essential Medicines List. The list specifies which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections and those which should be available at all times in the health care system.

WHO Assistant Director General for Antimicrobial Resistance, Hanan Balkhy, says the Essential Medicines List also indicates those antibiotics that must be used sparingly and as a last resort.

“We expect that the list will actually be a legitimate reference for health care providers who would like to understand the better ways of prescribing antibiotics,” she said. “And that following these guidelines will actually help them in having a system of how they would prescribe antibiotics, and have it based on a legitimate resource, which is the WHO.”

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The World Health Organization notes no significant investments are being made in the development of new antibiotics. Therefore it says improving the use of existing antibiotics is critical to curb the further spread of antimicrobial resistance. It says its new guidelines will help prescribers and health workers select the right antibiotic for the right infection, thereby protecting endangered antibiotics. (VOA)