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Medicines for the future – the search for new antibiotics

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1 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.

2 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.”

3 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.’

4 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.’

5 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!’

6 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.’

7 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.’

8 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!’

9 ‘Wow - I think that’s amazing
‘Wow - I think that’s amazing. I want to be a scientist when I grow up and help find new medicines…’ ‘Me too!’ go back to the menu

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