Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Can you spare some dirt?

Scientists are on the hunt for new microbes that might cure diseases. Where do these hang out sometimes--in dirt.

Researchers at Sean Brady's Laboratory of Genetically Encoded Small Molecules at Rockefeller Univ are using genomic sequencing to investigate organisms that live in soil.

But they need dirt from all over--more than they could gather themselves.

They have already looked at 100 soil samples from two regions of the United States.  They hope to incorporate many more samples.

Bacteria have already produced or inspired many antibiotics and cancer-fighting and immune-suppressing therapies.

But there are a lot more bacteria out there.

For some reason, arid soils seems to contain more promising microbes.

Want to help? Go to http://www.drugsfromdirt.org and sign up. You will get instructions on how to send in dirt from your location. It's pretty simple--basically a sandwich bag with a couple of spoonfuls in it.

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