A type of bacteria found in your nose could hold the key to fighting antibiotic resistant superbugs, research has suggested.
Scientists said a drug called lugdunin, which is made naturally from nasal bacterium called Staphylococcus lugdunensis, produces an antibiotic lethal to the MRSA superbug.
Tests showed that it had potent antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria.
Nasal swabs from 187 hospitalised patients showed that 5.9% of people carrying Staphylococcus lugdunensis had superbug resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (or MRSA) in their noses compared with 34.7% of non-carriers.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, suggest that Staphylococcus lugdunensis is a “friendly” microbe that helps protect us from Staphylococcus aureus.
“Lugdunin has apparently evolved for the purpose of bacterial elimination in the human organism, implying that it is optimised for efficacy and tolerance at its physiological site of action,” said researchers, led by Dr Andreas Peschel from the University of Tubingen in Germany.
“Thus, lugdunin shows promise as a potential drug for inhibiting growth of S. aureus in the nares (nostrils) and potentially other body sites.”
Professor Colin Garner, the head of Antibiotic Research UK, told the BBC: “Altering the balance of bacteria in our bodies through the production of natural antibiotics could eventually be exploited to fight off bacterial infections.
“It is possible that this report will be the first of many demonstrating that bacteria in our bodies can produce novel antibiotics with new chemical structures.”
In 2014, scientists said urgent action was needed to stem the threat of antibiotic resistant superbugs to global public health before it was too late.
At the time, Dr Keiji Fekuda, the World Health Organisation’s assistant director-general for health security, said: “Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”