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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Ancient Irish folk medicine may help fight the world's deadliest bacteria

•, Michael Irving

For the past century or so, we've been able to kill bacteria with relative ease, thanks to antibiotics. But the bugs are adapting to them, leading scientists into an arms race to keep us from being plunged back into the "dark ages of medicine." But it turns out, looking to the past might help our future – a team of researchers from Swansea University Medical School has discovered a new potential superbug killer in Irish soil, which has long been believed to have healing properties.

According to local lore, the soil in the Boho Highlands in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, could help cure what ails ya. Thousands of years ago, the soil was used to treat things like toothache and infections. These kinds of folk medicines might not get much attention in the scientific community nowadays, but with the looming threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, more researchers are investigating whether the old stories have any truth to them.

The Swansea team tested soil from the Boho Highlands area, looking for signs of the presence of Streptomyces bacteria, which are well known for producing antibiotics. And find them they did, including a brand new strain of the bug that has now been named Streptomyces sp. myrophorea.

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