- Title: New peptide could help fight drug-resistant 'superbugs'
- Date: 17th August 2017
- Summary: ARAVA DESERT, ISRAEL (FILE - DECEMBER 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PILLS BEING MANUFACTURED PILLS BEING PUT IN JARS ON PRODUCTION LINE
- Embargoed: 31st August 2017 09:00
- Keywords: antibiotics antibiotic resistance Hebrew University of Jerusalem superbugs Zvi Hayouka
- Location: REHOVOT & PETAH TIKVA, ISRAEL
- City: REHOVOT & PETAH TIKVA, ISRAEL
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA0016UJLUFV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Israeli scientists have developed a peptide that could be used in antimicrobial medicines that could help treat infections in a post-antibiotic era.
Bacterial infections are growing increasingly resistant to traditional antibiotic drugs, killing 700,000 people a year world-wide. The last new class of antibiotic was discovered in 1984.
Dr. Zvi Hayouka, from Israel's Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led the team working on a random peptide mix that could lead to a new generation of peptide-based antibiotics.
Antimicrobial peptides are chains of amino acids produced by the body's own tissue as a first line of defence against many types of infection. Organisms including frogs, plants, fungi and humans release these peptides, allowing them to treat bacteria as if they are part of immune system.
The team looked at the structure of the naturally-occurring peptides. Instead of having a defined structure or sequence, Hayouka's team has taken a new approach to synthesizing these peptides.
"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," Hayouka explained. This led the team to attempt a random mixed sequence, he added.
Hayouka said the peptide mixtures discovered in the study showed potency against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Gram-positive bacteria retain the colour of the crystal violet stain used in the standard identification Gram test and have a more porous cell wall than Gram-negative bacteria.
Most drugs currently being developed target so-called Gram-positive bacteria, a group that includes the well-known superbug Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). But recently, the main emerging threats have come from the group known as Gram-negatives, which are harder to treat because they are encased in tough membranes that repel many drugs.
"What we observe is that our compound can eradicate both of them very easily and it was very interesting because most of the host defence peptides that we have on our skin are targeting gram negative or gram positive and to expand our study we used also antibiotic resistant strains that were isolated from patients and we observed a very good activity towards Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant," Hayouka said.
Bacterial resistance can develop fast and has been made worse through over-prescribing and misuse of drugs
Hayouka's team is currently studying a mice model to measure the severity of the infection with and without the peptide compound and he said they are hoping to begin clinical trials to test safety and efficacy of the drug in the near future.
The study was published in the Angewandte Chemie of the German Chemical Society.
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