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Medicines for the future – the
search for new antibiotics
‘There are some bacteria which aren’t
killed by antibiotics any more. They
make people very ill indeed. We need
new medicines all the time to keep
ahead in the race against disease.’
‘It isn’t easy to find chemicals which
kill bacteria but don’t hurt people.
Scientists have to search in all sorts
of different places.
Scientist 1
“Lots of the antibiotics we have already – like penicillin - are
made by moulds. Lots of moulds are found in soil.
My team looks at soil from all over the world. We are looking
for a new mould that makes chemicals which can kill bacteria.”
Scientist 2
‘I look at how bacteria live and grow, and then use
my computer to try and design new chemicals which
will stop the bacteria growing and kill them.’
Scientist 3
‘Ancient Egyptians used honey to help heal wounds. We
think they may have had the right idea! Honey seems to
contain chemicals which stop infections caused by
bacteria. We are trying to find out how it works.’
Scientist 4
‘Crocodiles often fight and give each other terrible bites.
Surprisingly, these bites don’t get infected, even though crocs
have filthy teeth and live in dirty water full of bacteria. We’ve
been looking at crocodile blood – which isn’t very easy – to see
if we can find out why the bacteria don’t infect the crocodiles.
‘We’ve found a chemical in
crocodile blood which kills bacteria
– even bacteria which aren’t killed
by any other antibiotics. We really
hope that crocodillin, as we’ve
called it, might be an important
medicine in the future!’
Scientist 5
‘Our research is a bit fishy! The slime made by fish seems to
protect them from infections. If they lose their slime, they soon
get infected scales. We want to know if fish slime contains
chemicals which might make useful antibiotics for people.
‘We take different chemicals from
fish slime and see how good they
are at killing bacteria. We’ve got
a long way to go but things are
looking hopeful.’
Scientist 6
‘We are looking at organisms
from the sea shore in our
search for new antibiotics.
‘We’ve found some bacteria on
Scottish beaches which are
giving us some exciting results.
They produce a chemical which
kills other bacteria - including
some that aren’t affected by
other antibiotics.’
Scientist 7
‘We’ve been looking at the seas too –
but not on the shores! Some bacteria
found in the deepest oceans make
chemicals which we think could be
very useful in killing other bacteria
which cause disease.
‘We’re calling the most useful
chemical so far abyssomycin because
it comes from the deepest abyss of
the sea. We’ll keep looking until we
find the right one!’
‘Wow - I think
that’s amazing.
I want to be a
scientist when I
grow up and
help find new
‘Me too!’
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