Antibiotics from the Northern Ocean

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In the search for effective medicines and cures, one major threat unites people around the world. What the World Health Organization (WHO) calls the post-antibiotic era. An era where all known antibiotics cease to work and even the most typical infection becomes untreatable and therefore lethal. Medical experts warn that, due to overuse and misuse of today’s antibiotics, that time is approaching.

To prevent this scenario, researchers have been on the hunt for better antibiotics and some, like organic chemistry professor Fredrik Almqvist at Umeå University in Sweden, search for a different type of solution altogether.

Almqvist and his team in Tromsø, Norway have uncovered a substance on the seafloor that they believe has five times more effective antiviral properties than any antibiotic currently available. The substance’s unique qualities are thought to originate from the extreme temperature fluctuations and distinct salinity of the northern ocean. The research, funded by the Knut & Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Norwegian government, is part of the marine program, “Molecules for the Future”.