FEB 05, 2018 03:36 PM PST

New Peptide can Bust Biofilms

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Because antibiotic resistance is a growing health problem that will eventually threaten all of us, there has been considerable focus on finding new drugs to combat bacteria that can get around our current therapeutics. No stone is going unturned, and now scientists have made alterations to a compound found in the human body so that it will destroy tough microbes. The new drug is now going to clinical trials for human skin infections. 

 This is a colorized scanning electron micrograph of a white blood cell eating an antibiotic resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, MRSA. / Credit:NIH

The drug is modeled after a human peptide, LL-37, a chemical just a few amino acids long. Typically, the peptide aids in the regulation of the immune response and has some natural ability to eliminate bacteria. The chemical had previously been shortened to make it stronger, and now it has been optimized further. It could be used for the destruction of dangerous bacterial infections.

Some of those infections are chronic. If a bacterium survives antibiotic treatment, it can group with other resilient microbes. Together they can form uncontrollable infections, such as on a medical device or in a wound. If they build a biofilm, as described in the following video, it can be impossible for drugs to penetrate into them. Sometimes infections will form persisters; they lie dormant until the antibiotic exposure is over, and then they come alive again to cause disease.

 A variation of  LL-37, SAAP-148, was able to destroy these persistent and dangerous bacterial colonies in a dish, and in an animal model of a wound. It even killed bacteria that had been treated, unsuccessfully, with another antibiotic. 

The drug has another important feature. Many times, molecules will get stuck to lipids and proteins in the blood, and are then unable to exert an effect. SAAP-148 does not suffer that problem and can circulate in the blood without binding to stuff.

This work contributes “an important piece … to the puzzle of creating a perfect antibiotic,” Kim Lewis, a microbiologist at Northeastern University in Boston who was not involved in the work, told Science.


Sources: Science News, Science

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUN 12, 2018
Cancer
JUN 12, 2018
CD44 Insights & Cancer Influence
CD44 is a known cell surface protein involved in numerous interactions; it is overexpressed in cancerous tissue and its isoforms are being investigated as targets for cancer immunotherapy...
JUN 12, 2018
Immunology
JUN 12, 2018
Auto-antibody Detection for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
No case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease, is the same. Now, researchers want RA diagnostic approaches to match its pathological diversit...
JUL 01, 2018
Videos
JUL 01, 2018
Growing Patient Cells on a Chip for Personalized Drug Screens
This work could help eliminate animal models, and tailor medicine to the patient....
JUL 13, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUL 13, 2018
Detecting Leukemia Before it Starts Growing
Researchers have found ways to identify people who may develop an aggressive type of blood cancer while they are still healthy....
JUL 27, 2018
Microbiology
JUL 27, 2018
Making Accurate Assessments of the Environmental Impact of Pollution
Without the right experimental design, behavioral testing can easily produce the wrong results....
AUG 21, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
AUG 21, 2018
Another Hurdle in Modeling the Human Brain is Overcome
Miniature, simplified versions of human brains were just improved with the addition of an important cell type....
Loading Comments...