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Antimicrobial Peptides May Help Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Nov 05, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
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Many studies in the past have shown how bacteria can adapt and develop antibiotic immunity. One particular case was elevated by the United Nations on the same level as HIV and Ebola. The UK Commission made a recent study that states that if no new antibiotics are manufactured, around 10 million people will be killed by bacterial infections by 2050.

To assist in the rebuilding of the arsenal that can combat infectious disease, scientists are now taking the help of naturally occurring proteins, referred to as antimicrobial peptides. Besides killing bacteria, these proteins can destroy other microbes like fungi and viruses. Researchers at MIT, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Brasilia have built an antimicrobial peptide that has the potential to destroy different variants of bacteria including those that offer tough resistance to a majority of antibiotics.

One of the prime objectives of MIT is to come up with solutions to fight antibiotic resistance, according to Cesar de la Fuente, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. The peptide is fascinating in the sense that it offers a new option to treat such infections, which is the main reason behind the deaths of millions of people annually than other diseases including cancer.

The peptide, Clavanin-MO, is a derivative of a marine tunicate antimicrobial peptide that has immunomodulatory and antimicrobial properties, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. Naturally occurring peptides rupture the target's cell membranes and disturb matter within, which includes their proteins, RNA and DNA. Furthermore, they introduce leukocytes that secrete chemicals to destroy invading microbes.

At the moment, the researchers are trying to figure out the factors that make the peptide so effective compared to naturally occurring versions. There is still room for improvement for Clavanin-MO, and when it can be applied in humans, it can function on its own or along with traditional antibiotics.

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