August 18, 2019 | 83° F

Rutgers researchers test bear saliva for lifesaving antibiotics

Photo by Wikimedia |

Rutgers researchers said that exotic sources, such as the bear saliva, are largely unexplored in advancing the study of antibiotics. The bear’s saliva was tested to see if it contained harmful bacteria.

A team of scientists from Rutgers contributed to discovering a way to use saliva from an East Siberian brown bear to test potentially lifesaving antibiotics.

With this recently discovered method of testing antibiotics, bacterium from a wild animal’s mouth is tested to see if it contains harmful bacteria. In the study with the brown bear, its saliva samples were placed in oil droplets and machines sorted through them until one was found without bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.

“Placing single species of bacteria in droplets allows us to monitor their responses to various insults, such as antibiotics, while avoiding interactions in complex microbiomes, such as our own. Our method should allow us to test how our microbiome responds and changes when various drugs are administered,” said Konstantin Severinov, co-author of the study and professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University.

When examining the saliva sample from the bear, scientists discovered that an antibiotic called amicoumacin stopped the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, according to the experiment’s study

Exotic sources of microbiota, such as that of bear saliva, are unexplored resources for discovering antibiotics, according to the study’s abstract.

“The bear was chosen largely because it was captured way out in the wilderness where, it was assumed, microbes typical for the species and not affected by civilization are present,” Severinov said.

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