Could Your Body Become a CVS?

Did you know your body can make its own drugs?

Well, not really, but scientists are finding that our microbes are a rich source of molecules that act like drugs, reports.  

Bacteria that normally live in and upon us have genetic blueprints that enable them to make thousands of molecules that act like drugs, and some of these molecules might serve as the basis for new human therapeutics, according to UC San Francisco researchers.

A bacteria found in the vagina might actually be used as an antibiotic, researchers found.  The antibiotic, lactocillin, is closely related to others already being tested clinically by pharmaceutical companies. Lactocillin kills several vaginal bacterial pathogens, but spares species known to harmlessly dwell in the vagina.

This example suggests that there may be an important role for many naturally occurring drugs – made by our own microbes -- in maintaining human health, according to the senior author of the study, Michael Fischbach, PhD, an assistant professor of bioengineering with the UCSF School of Pharmacy.
“We used to think that drugs were developed by drug companies, approved by the FDA, and prescribed by physicians, but we now think there are many drugs of equal potency and specificity being produced by the human microbiota,” Fischbach said.
About a third of all medicines used in the clinic are derived from microbes and plants, Fischbach said. These include antibiotics like penicillin, numerous drugs used in cancer chemotherapy, and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Although those who prospect for drugs from microbes have been combing the depths of the oceans and probing exotic soils around the globe, only now have scientists begun to look within our own bodies.
There are hundreds of bacterial species associated with each of us, and thousands of distinct strains among them. We do not all harbor the same species, and different species are found at different body sites, says.
There are ecosystems made up of many microbial species – found in the gut, skin, nasal passages, mouth and vagina.
In the study, the gene clusters identified by researchers encode enzymes that serve as molecular factories to produce specific drug-like molecules that fit into known classes of pharmaceuticals.
“We need to learn what these molecules are and what they are doing,” Fischbach said at “This could represent a pool of molecules with many tantalizing candidates for drug therapy.


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