The fact that some of the microorganisms, which are the natural factories for all types of biomolecules, produce antibiotics that tend to be extremely useful in medical practice, is not a newly discovered information but, as each of the microorganisms produces its individual set of molecules and the production rate is also not very high. Hence, it is been very difficult to utilize this knowledge for the production of large quantities of the required antibiotics.
A team of researchers at the North Carolina State University has recently created a molecular-scale sensor, which can detect the production of antibiotics, allowing the identification of microorganisms that produce them. Once recognized, the manufacturing of the antibiotic can be then scaled to industrial levels. The team at the NC State is focusing aggressively on finding and producing new and useful macrolides, which, many a times, have medically beneficial characteristics, including their functioning as antibiotics. For example, Erythromycin is a macrolide developed through a bacteria.
The researchers have further repurposed MphR, an E. coli-produced protein, which assists in evading macrolide antibiotics, produced by attacking microbes. They chose the varieties of MphR that were capable of activating a fluorescent green protein with macrolides in their environment. They also tested the efficiency of MphR in detecting erythromycin, which resulted in a number of MphR varieties being able to spot erythromycin very well. “Researchers, essentially, have co-opted and developed the MphR sensor system, raising its sensitivity in detecting the molecules that they were interested in,” told Gavin Williams, an associate professor at NC State, in a statement.