Which bacteria lurk on Jeremy Bentham?


One of the major medical challenges that
we’re facing as a society at the moment is the increasing resistance to
antibiotics. We’ve got pretty much no new drugs coming to market. So, we’re relying on the drugs that we
have over and over again to save us from infection. What this means is the bacteria become
more and more resistant the more we use the antibiotics. So the
hunt is really on for new antibiotics. We’re asking the
public to participate in this research with the swab and send project and they
decide where we look for new antibiotics. What that means is that the bacteria
that are all around us usually produce the antibiotics that we use in medicine. So, theoretically, all we have to do is to
find some new interesting bacteria and they can be producing new antibiotic
molecules. One of the reasons why I’m here today is to see if Jeremy Bentham, who is two hundred years old, has actually got any interesting bacteria on
his clothes. We’re very lucky today as well as UCL
collections have been very kind and given this rare access to the head of Jeremy Bentham which we going
to swab now to see if anything interesting growing on there. After the plates had had a couple of
days incubation, we took a look at them and we could see that from the lock of
the cabinet and also from his walking stick we got quite an interesting variety of
different colonies of bacteria and fungi growing up. Also, his shoes produced quite a rich
array of different colonies. Interestingly, as well, both the left eye and his ear gave us
some colonies which we can work on. At the moment we don’t know which colonies
will be interesting in terms of producing antibiotics. That will depend on the
initial screens and then the work carried out by Tim in order to see if
any molecules that they produce are new to science. Any compounds that look novel, we then intend to purify and then we’ll
perform studies with these purified compounds. The ultimate aim is to is to
have novel compounds that have a potential to go into further
developments to be an antibiotic drug or perhaps also used in other ways. So, for
example, as an antimicrobial surface coating or as or something used in food
manufacturing, as well. There’s many different approaches that could be taken.

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