New peptide could help fight drug-resistant ‘superbugs’

STORY: Drug-resistant superbugs are one of the biggest challenges to global health. Naturally-occuring antimicrobial peptides could be the key to fighting against these bacterial infections. Israeli researchers have synthesized the chains of amino acids. And they’ve found that they are best sequenced in a random mix. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: “There are many, many, many antimicrobial peptides that were discovered and isolated from many, many organisms and what we have noticed that there is no consensus sequence or consensus structure for this kind of motif.” The team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the peptides are very effective at stopping bacteria like superbug MRSA from growing. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: “When we exposed the bacteria to this kind of compound we can see that they have very good activity and they can inhibit the growth of bacteria very very easily of gram negative, of gram positive and also for superbugs that are really a huge threat in hospitals and many other indication.” The peptides developed by the researchers are especially useful because their antimicrobial action works on all kinds of bacteria, regardless of their cell structure. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: “All the bacteria are divided for two main groups, the gram positive and gram negative that are different in their structure and what we observe that our compound can eradicate both of them very very easily.” For now the researchers are testing their peptide compound on mice. They hope to begin clinical trials in the near future.

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