"Vancomycin entered clinical use in 1958, five years after its isolation from microbes in a soil sample gathered by an American missionary in Borneo. For nearly six decades it has been useful against a wide range of bacteria, and it remains a standard weapon against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a major cause of hospital-acquired infections. A compound closely related to vancomycin also has been widely used to protect livestock.
"Since the late 1980s, there have been increasing reports of vancomycin resistance in classes of bacteria that usually succumb to the antibiotic, including MRSA. Although vancomycin remains useful, scientists have been looking for new drugs to replace it in cases—often life-threatening—where it no longer can help patients."