Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Frog plus frying pan equals better antibiotic

21.08.2007
By creating "Teflon" versions of natural antibiotics found in frog skin, a research team led by biological chemist E. Neil Marsh has made the potential drugs better at thwarting bacterial defenses, an improvement that could enhance their effectiveness. Marsh will discuss the work Aug. 20 at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

Marsh and collaborators work with compounds called antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are produced by virtually all animals, from insects to frogs to humans. AMPs are the immune system's early line of defense, battling microbes at the first places they try to penetrate: skin, mucous membranes and other surfaces. They're copiously produced in injured or infected frog skin, for instance, and the linings of the human respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts also crank out the short proteins in response to invading pathogens. In addition to fighting bacteria, AMPs attack viruses, fungi and even cancer cells, so drugs designed to mimic them could have widespread medical applications.

Scientists have been interested in exploiting these natural antibiotics since their discovery in the 1980s, but they haven't been able to overcome some limitations. In particular, AMPs are easily broken down by protein-degrading enzymes (proteases) that are secreted by bacteria and are also naturally present in the body. Increasing the concentration of AMPs in an effort to get around that problem can cause toxic side effects, such as the destruction of red blood cells---those critical carriers of oxygen in the bloodstream. That seems to happen because sticky parts of the AMP molecule interact with the cell membrane in a harmful way.

Marsh had the idea of replacing sticky portions of the peptides with nonstick analogs. His inspiration came from the kitchen as much as the chemistry lab: nonstick cookware is coated with fluorinated polymers, plastic-like compounds composed of chains of carbon atoms completely surrounded by fluorine atoms. The fluorine not only makes Teflon slippery, it also makes the coating inert to almost every known chemical.

... more about:
»AMP »antibiotic »fluorinated

When Marsh and co-workers swapped sticky parts of their AMP molecule with nonstick, fluorinated versions, the molecules became much more resistant to proteases.

"The difference was quite striking," said Marsh, a U-M professor of chemistry. "When we treated them with purified proteases, the nonfluorinated AMPs were all degraded within 30 minutes. Under the same conditions, the fluorinated AMP was completely intact after 10 hours. We think that should make them more effective, as they'll stay around longer in the body.

"We also showed that they seem to be at least as good at killing bacteria as their nonfluorinated counterparts, and for some bacteria they're actually significantly better."

Next, the researchers plan experiments to learn whether Teflon AMPs are also less toxic than their stickier equivalents. If they are, and if further studies continue to point to their promise, eventually producing large enough quantities of fluorinated AMPs for clinical trials should be quite feasible, Marsh said.

Though the research now has obvious practical applications, it started as an exploration in basic science.

"We were just interested in translating useful properties of man-made materials into biological molecules," Marsh said. "But fairly immediately we saw the potential for applying our fundamental science to a very important clinical problem, which is the way that more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to more and more conventional antibiotics."

Nancy Ross-Flanigan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.chemistry.org
http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=1026

Further reports about: AMP antibiotic fluorinated

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ambush in a petri dish
24.11.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>