Antibiotic tablets.
Antibiotic tablets.

Discover the solution to antibiotic resistance

The solution to antibiotic resistance could be hiding in our own backyards, with researchers from the University of Queensland studying various soil samples across Australia in the hopes to solve this issue.

The university’s Soils for Science program hopes to create a “living library” of the different microorganisms found in soils across the country.

Project manager Dr Zeinab Khalil said there was an urgent need for new antibiotics to treat an alarming surge in drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections.

“Without safe and effective antibiotics, modern medicine is at risk of being set back over 100 years to a time when even a simple scratch could kill you if it became infected,” Dr Khalil said.

“Antibiotics make possible many medical procedures we take for granted – caesarean sections, hip replacements, and the treatment of seemingly simple ear, eye, nose and throat infections.

“Over the years, nature has given us many valuable medicines, including most of the antibiotics we use today - but with these antibiotics becoming increasingly resistant to even last-resort treatments, we urgently need new leads.”

But undiscovered organisms that lie within soils could possibly hold the key to treating resistant bacteria.

“Basically, Soils for Science seeks to build a partnership between researchers and the public to fast-track the discovery of new antibiotics,” she said.

The project began after an anti-tuberculosis antibiotic was found in a Wooloongong soil sample a couple of years ago.

Dr Khalil’s team has even visited a location near Gladstone where new microbes were discovered.

She said one of the reasons why antibiotic resistance is getting worse is because of people not taking their prescribed medicines properly.

Dr Khalil is hoping to get 100,000 soil samples from across Queensland and is encouraging people to submit samples from the places they live to help with the study.

From what she has read, antibiotic resistance seems to be a more prevalent problem in rural areas.

Anyone who wants to contribute can visit the Soils for Science website and request a soil kit, to send back.