Compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA
US scientists from Rockefeller University have discovered a new family of antibiotics in soil samples.
The natural compounds could be used to combat hard-to-treat infections.
Tests show the compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA, BBC reports.
Experts say the work, published in Nature Microbiology, offers fresh hope in the antibiotics arms race.
Drug-resistant diseases are one of the biggest threats to global health.
Dr Sean Brady's team at New York's Rockefeller University has been busy unearthing different micro-organisms that produce lots of potentially therapeutic compounds, including new antibiotics.
They used a gene sequencing technique to analyse more than 1,000 soil samples taken from across the US. When they discovered malacidins in many of the samples, they had a hunch it was an important find.
They tested the compound on rats that they had given MRSA and it eliminated the infection in skin wounds.
The researchers are now working to improve the drug's effectiveness in the hope that it can be developed into a real treatment for people.
From discovery to clinic
Dr Brady said: "It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic.
"It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity."