The discovery of genuinely novel antibiotics is rare, and experts say resistance to the drugs poses a grave threat to human health.
US scientists say the new compound, called anthracimycin, seems to be effective at killing MRSA and anthrax.
Details appear in the German journal Angewandte Chemie.
The unique chemical structure of the compound could lead to up a new class of antibiotic medicines.
Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently warned of the risk posed by antibiotic-resistant “nightmare” bacteria while Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer described them as a “ticking time bomb” that threatens national security.
The Infectious Disease Society of America has expressed concern that the rate of antibiotic development to counter resistance is insufficient. This makes this latest discovery particularly welcome news.
The structure of anthracimycin, described by Kyoung Hwa Jang and co-workers from Scripps in their journal paper, is unlike any previously-reported natural antibiotic.
The compound was extracted from Steptomyces bacteria that had been collected by Christopher Kauffman in Pacific Ocean sediments.