This is definitely worth a read:
Source: Could the Answer to the Antibiotic-Resistance Crisis Be Found on a Toilet Seat? – The Atlantic
Or a listen to since there is an audio version of the story (see below).\
The article basically discusses work by Adam Roberts to survey the world for new antibiotics. The best parts of the story to me are how Roberts is trying to swab the world himself:
Roberts pulls a plastic-wrapped package from his pocket, tears it open, and slides out a long, slender tube and a swab that looks like an overgrown Q-tip. After checking again for anyone watching, he trots down the stairs, dragging the swab along the handrail, and slips the swab into the tube and the tube into his pocket. Then he strolls away.
And with help:
Compost bin. Pig trough. Dog-food bowl. Laptop keyboard. Roberts is flipping through a thick binder in his lab, reading off the places where the samples in his collection came from. He didn’t collect most of them himself. They were provided by a network he built, through a crowdsourcing campaign and a Facebook page—a modern version of the drug-company campaigns of the 1950s, aimed at harvesting samples from a wider geographic range than he could ever reach on his own.
The article also discusses other efforts like the use of the iChip and the Small Work Initiative and sequencing efforts. It is definitely worth a read or a listen to, or both.
2 thoughts on “Great article by Maryn McKenna on the hunt for new antibiotics w/ crowdsourcing help”
It is very true that the healthcare system would collapse without the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are relied on every day rather being handed out in a doctor’s office or given through an IV after surgery. We are certainly in need to new antibiotics. Do you believe we make greater strides towards finding them in pharmaceutical chemistry or out in nature such as Roberts idea?
We probably need both kinds of efforts but given the sheer massive amount of microbial diversity we have not studied it seems very likely that there will be novel processes out there selected by evolution that might be hard to come up with via chemistry.