Antimicrobial resistance and cancer are regarded as two of the greatest threats to public health. Researchers around the world have been working relentlessly to develop new drugs that are more efficient and have fewer side effects to combat these threats. Most of the drugs that have been proven effective are of Streptomyces origin or their synthetic forms. However, in recent years, the compounds discovered in terrestrial Streptomyces are either already known or very similar to those known. Therefore, researchers have turned their attention to potential microorganisms from unexplored or underexploited natural environments as a source of new bioactive molecules.
In a paper published in International Journal of Microbiology, Periyasamy Sivalingam and colleagues reviewed several studies conducted between 2009 and 2019 to evaluate the potential use of Streptomyces found in extreme environments in the development of new drugs against cancer and bacterial infections.
The team compared research data from deep sea, desert, cryo-environment, and volcanic environments, and confirmed that potential Streptomyces that can be used in drug development exist in all these habitats. By reviewing the different isolation techniques used to extract Streptomyces from different extreme environments, the authors argue that the technical advances in isolation, fermentation, spectroscopy, and DNA sequencing have made it easier to identify various biosynthetic gene clusters in extreme habitat-derived Streptomyces, which helps researchers to learn more about the bioactive compounds in these Streptomyces.
Because the studies selected for this review were focused on limited geographical locations, more data is needed from other extreme regions to build a more comprehensive picture of novel Streptomyces-derived natural compounds. Nevertheless, Dr Sivalingam and their colleagues believe the current studies have demonstrated the promising potential of extreme environment Streptomyces in drug development.
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.