Sponge Compound Destroys Resilient Superbug

Superbugs are one of the biggest threats to modern medicine and, consequently, to our health. They are defined as harmful micro-organisms that are extremely resistant (to the point of immunity) to all known antibiotics that were used against them until now.

One such case that has reached alarming levels and has already caused major concern among medical scientists and experts is the strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (more commonly known as MRSA), a pathogen that is currently spreading in the United States of America. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has shown that MRSA infects about 80.000 people every year in the US alone, with roughly 1 in every 8 cases proven to be fatal.divehole However, this statistic could soon be reduced dramatically due to the discovery of a new compound.

Darwinolide, as it was named by the scientists who discovered it, is a great MRSA killer since, according to studies and trials, it can eliminate 98% of its total bacteria range. It was found in one of the most unlikely places of the entire planet, Antarctica, inside a sponge species called Dendrilla membranosa.

Even though its mechanism of action is not entirely understood yet, biologists such as James McClintock, a member of the team that discovered the aforementioned substance, stated that every single organism that lives in such isolated ecosystems with extreme weather conditions have developed some very powerful defense mechanisms in order to be able to survive. Some of them can be useful to us in our never ending fight against harmful microorganisms. In fact, it is not the first time that Antarctica offers us such valuable tools.

The same team has already discovered and identified a type of algae that can fight the now infamous H1N1 virus.

The next step in this fascinating breakthrough would be the ability to synthesize darwinolide in the lab. Besides the obvious advantage of not having to harvest sponges from nature, synthesizing allows scientists to modify and improve the ingredient before using it.

This is just another of the countless times that nature offers us the best solution to problems that seemed impossible to overcome. Nobody knows what secrets we will discover in the future and how much help we will be given by our own environment. The only thing that we have to keep in mind is that we must treat it with respect in order to preserve it.