Soil found in rural Northern Ireland could hold the key to fighting antibiotic resistance, researchers believe.
Doctors and scientists are desperately searching for new ways to kill superbugs – and the new finding could pave the way.
A study found dirt from County Fermanagh can stop the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, such as the hospital superbug MRSA.
The discovery has been hailed as an ‘important step forward’ in the progress against antibiotic resistance, considered one of the biggest threats to humanity.
The soil from the highlands around the village of Boho, near the border with the Republic of Ireland, has been used as medicine for many years.
It was traditionally wrapped in cloth and used to heal toothache and throat infections, among other ailments, according to historians.
Now, scientists led by a team at Swansea University have discovered it can combat four out of the six most common antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The dirt can stop the growth of MRSA, Klebsiella pneumoniae, vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) and carbenepenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumanii.
It is not known whether the soil could have the same effect on the other two common resistant bacteria species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacteriaceae.
But it was also found to be able to stop differently structured bacteria, including gram negative bacteria, which are more likely to be drug-resistant.
‘Our discovery is an important step forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance,’ said Professor Paul Dyson from Swansea University.