FEB 05, 2018 3:36 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
DEC 09, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 09, 2019
Newly IDed Biomarker Can Predict Compulsive Drinking
Lots of people drink alcohol, but not everyone develops a drinking problem. Researchers are starting to learn more about why that is....
DEC 10, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 10, 2019
Household Dust Samples Found to Contain Potentially Toxic LCD Chemicals
Our technology may be impacting our health in ways we did not realize....
DEC 20, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 20, 2019
Can We Cure Down's Syndrome with Gene Therapy?
Down’s Syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder brought on by the presence of all of part of a third copy of chromosome 21. Linked to delays in physical g...
JAN 07, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 07, 2020
Cancer-Like Metabolism Can Fuel Brain Growth
During evolution, the size of the human brain increased significantly compared to other primates....
JAN 20, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 20, 2020
Braveheart RNA Structure is Revealed For the First Time
Protein-coding genes only make up a small part of the genome. Much of the rest may contain long, non-coding RNA sequences....
FEB 07, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 07, 2020
Mutations That Lead to Cancer May Occur Decades Before Diagnosis
As our cells age or divide, errors can accumulate in the genome they carry, which can lead to cancer, and a variety of environmental and genetic factors ca...
Loading Comments...