The Human Microbiome as a New Source for Antibiotic Discovery

Bacterial infection especially antibiotic-resistance“superbugs” (e.g., methicillin- and vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has caused a huge global threat of public health. Bacterial infection currently kills more people than HIV, and will kill more people than cancer in the coming decades. Nevertheless, new antibiotics, one of the most important treatment options for bacterial infection, unfortunately continue to be limited because the pace of antibiotic discovery and development is dramatically declining. To meet the urgent need for novel drugs with combating the “superbugs”, researchers are continuing to explore new natural sources such as marine resource, metagenome, and uncultured microorganisms that were missed in previous screens.

The Human Microbiome
The Human Microbiome

The human microbiota (~100 trillion microbes) is the full collection of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, and archaea that reside inside and on human tissues and biofluids such as skin, lung, and gastrointestinal tracts. The human microbiome (~8 million genes) refers to an aggregate of genes in the human microbiota. Human microbiome has been considered as a counterpart to the human genome, which encodes at least 100 times as many genes as the entire human own genome.

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