Old bacterium researched as possible TB antibiotic

Lab-dish tests of a soil bacterium have shown that it could act as a "very selective killer" of the germ that causes tuberculosis.

Discovered nearly 60 years ago, Pyridomycin is a natural antibiotic exuded by the bacterium Streptomyces pyridomyceticus. It has shown promise as a candidate for fighting a drug-resistant strain of TB, according to researchers in Switzerland, the New York Daily News reports.

The World Health Organization reported that approximately 500,000 of the eight to nine million people infected with TB each year have a strain resistant to most drugs.

Pyridomcycin could help the by inhibiting a single gene called InHA that in mutant strains helps the TB microbe thwart isoniazid drugs, the New York Daily News reports.

Germs exposed to pyridomycin became depleted in fatty acids, which are necessary in building the bacterial cell wall.

"Nature's antibiotic, pyridomycin, is a very selective killer of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis in humans," Stewart Cole, a professor at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausance in Switzerland, said, the New York Daily News reports. "It is also active against mycobacteria that have developed resistance to front-line drug treatments such as isoniazid."

The study was published in the European Molecular Biology Organization's EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Pyridomhycin was first identified as a potential agent against TB in 1953 by Japanese scientists.