Natural Antibiotics: How Teixobactin Kills Resistant Pathogens

Natural Antibiotics: How Teixobactin Kills Resistant Pathogens

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Teixobactine: beacon of hope in the fight against resistant pathogens

A new class of natural antibiotics is currently the hope in the fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. It is the active ingredient Teixobactin, which can be isolated from soil-living bacteria called Eleftheria terrae. The antimicrobial substance was discovered in 2015. Now a research team has deciphered the killing mechanism of teixobactin.

A research team led by Dr. Markus Weingarth from the University of Utrecht, with the support of researchers from the University of Liverpool, has gained fundamental new insights into how Teixobactine kills bacteria. To do this, they used a hitherto unknown mechanism that could play an important role in the development of novel antibiotics. The research results were recently presented in the renowned journal "Nature Communications".

Antimicrobial resistance - a great danger

Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to human health. A 2016 UK government report predicts that by 2050, ten million people will die annually from resistant germs if no antidote is found by then.

Great potential with hurdles

After the discovery of teixobactin in 2015, the substance consisting of eleven amino acids was celebrated as a turning point in the fight against multi-resistant bacterial pathogens. The active ingredient can kill resistant germs like MRSA without the bacteria developing resistance.

So far, however, it has not yet been possible to use the active ingredient for humans, among other things because it has not yet been sufficiently understood how teixobactin kills bacteria. If made suitable for humans, it would be the first new class of antibiotics in 30 years, the research team reports.

A hitherto unknown killing mechanism

In the current research work, the international team led by Dr. Markus Weingarth from the University of Utrecht for the first time in how Teixobactins kill bacteria. So far, it has been assumed that the teixobactins kill the bacteria by binding to bacterial cell wall stones such as Lipid II, but the new study suggests that instead the active ingredient kills the bacteria by trapping the lipid II cell wall stones in massive clusters.

Put simply, the Teixobactins intercept the lipid II building blocks of the bacteria, making them no longer available for the formation of cell walls. The bacteria die as a result of this lack of cell wall building blocks.

Hope for better antibiotics

"Teixobactin could be one of our strongest weapons against pathogens like M. tuberculosis, which kills more than a million people each year alone," explains research director Dr. Markus Weingarth. Thanks to the new study, it has now become much clearer how teixobactin kills bacteria. Based on these new findings, it will hopefully be possible to develop even more powerful antibiotics, according to the research team. (Vb)

Editor's note: In a first version of this article, the impression was erroneously given that Dr. Ishwar Singh from the University of Liverpool led the study. We have therefore adapted the article and clearly emphasized that the management at Dr. Markus Weingarth from the University of Utrecht.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Rhythm Shukla, João Medeiros-Silva, Anish Parmar, among others: Mode of action of teixobactins in cellular membranes; in: Nature Communications, 2020,
  • Utrecht University: Uncovering the tricks of game changer antibiotic teixobactin (published June 5, 2020),
  • University of Liverpool: New killing mechanism discovered in 'game-changing' antibiotic (published: 05.06.2020),

Video: Rising from the Dirt: A New Antibiotic Breakthrough (January 2023).