Fahim Reza Shuvon::
A well-known peer reviewed journal recently recognized a team of Bangladeshi scientists for discovering new antibiotics from rare species of bacteria found on jute seeds.
The team comprises several professors of Dhaka University (DU), some students, and a member of the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR). They are Dr M Aftab Uddin, Shammi Akter, Mahbuba Ferdous, Badrul Haidar, Al Amin, AHM Shofiul Islam Molla, Dr Haseena Khan and Dr Mohammad Riazul Islam.
At least five antibiotics can be produced from the bacteria, providing a means to combat various kinds of bacterial infections, according to genome sequencing by the research team.
The study ran for three years at the molecular biology laboratory of DU.
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On May 27, the findings were published in Scientific Reports, an online peer-reviewed journal by Nature Research, titled “A plant endophyte Staphylococcus hominis strain MBL_AB63 produces a novel lantibiotic, homicorcin and a position one variant”.
Dr Mohammad Riazul Islam, professor at the DU biochemistry and molecular biology department, told Dhaka Tribune: “These antibiotics have the potential to fight various drug-resistant bacterial diseases.”
Dr Haseena Khan, senior member of the team and also a professor of the DU biochemistry and molecular biology department said: “The aim was not fixed [when we began genome sequencing]. Many microorganisms live on plants such as jute and we were not sure what we would find.
“After genome sequencing of this bacteria, we found that it has a gene that produces antibiotics which were not previously reported. It was a difficult task to separate the pure antibiotics from many other things produced by the bacteria, and our team member Prof Aftab Uddin did that part smoothly.”
She also said: “We found that the bacteria produced five different antibiotics, which can be used to fight various diseases. We have, so far, researched only two of the types of antibiotics [homicorcin and homicorcin 1] and will study the other three types in the future.”
According to experts, the widespread use of antibiotics is leading many infections to develop resistances, and the discovery of new antibiotics is crucial to ensure that they can continue to be treated.