NPR

Bugs Vs. Superbugs: Insects Offer Promise In Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance

With the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections, scientists are exploring nature to find new disease-fighting compounds. They're finding them in surprising new places: the microbiomes of insects.
Scientists have isolated a molecule with disease-fighting potential in a microbe living on a type of fungus-farming ant (genus Cyphomyrmex). The microbe kills off other hostile microbes attacking the ants' fungus, a food source. Source: Courtesy of Alexander Wild/University of Wisconsin

Nobody likes a cockroach in their house. But before you smash the unwelcome intruder, consider this: that six-legged critter might one day save your life.

That's right. Insects—long known to spread diseases—could potentially help cure them. Or rather, the microbes living inside them could. Scientists have discovered dozens of microorganisms living in or on insects that produce antimicrobial compounds, some of which may hold the key to developing new antibiotic drugs.

They can't come too soon. More infections are becoming resistant to common antibiotics, and the pipeline of new antibiotic drugs has slowed to.

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