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MIT Engineers 'Bioweapon' Designed to Kill Bacteria

Nov 04, 2016 07:00 AM EDT

Recent research has successfully engineered an antimicrobial peptide that can possibly kill bacteria -- even those that are antibiotic resistant. This is good news for everyone, as studies have shown that if no new antibiotics are made, infections can kill 10 million people yearly by 2050.

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Barsilia, and University of British Columbia has developed an antimicrobial peptide that can kill multiple types of bacteria. This gives our proteins a natural boost -- a bioweapon of sorts -- against all kinds of infections.  

A study by a United Kingdom commission estimates that bacterial infections can kill millions if there is a lack of antibiotics by 2050. This can grow into a big problem as they slowly develop antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteria with antimicrobial resistance are a serious threat since traditional medicine will no longer affect them in the future. This will force researchers and scientists to continuously develop medicine that may not work using conventional means.

According to  Scientific Reports, the study has led to the generation of a synthetic peptide called the clavanin-MO that exhibits potent antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties both in vitro and in vivo.

Antimicrobial peptides can breach cell membranes of bacteria and disrupt the functions of important parts. These can destroy DNA, RNA, and the proteins of these bacteria and incredibly kill them.

Clavanin-MO has improved performance due to an added sequence of five amino acids that help make it hydrophobic. This means it can interact and switch membranes more effectively.

Mice tests have even shown that clavanin-MO has killed strains of E.coli and Straphylococcus aureus that are very antimicrobial resistant.

The researchers are now working on checking what makes clavanin-MO more effective than its older counterparts. If it's improved, it can be used on humans along with traditional antibiotics.

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