An Antibiotic Breakthrough?


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Bacteria have many methods of adapting to resist antibiotics, but a new class of spiral polypeptides developed at the University of Illinois targets one thing no bacterium can live without: an outer membrane.

One of the great things about perusing sites like Science Digest are all the new discoveries that are popping up - like this one - the basis for a broad spectrum - very, very broad spectrum antibiotic being developed. How broad? Most bacteria would succumb to it...

"We use a very set mechanism to puncture the bacterial membrane," Cheng said, "so the polypeptides don't really care whether the bacteria are gram positive or gram negative. They just kill the bacteria independent of their other surface properties."

This new breakthrough may knock down one of the biggest problems w/antibiotics - antibiotic resistance

Many drugs are very targeted, interacting with a particular protein or interfering with a particular pathway in the bacterial cell. Bacteria can develop resistance to the antibiotic by circumventing the specific target. Since the spiral structures simply poke holes in the physical structure of the membrane, it would be much harder for bacteria to form resistance, Xiong said. In addition, the new antimicrobial agents could be coupled with other, targeted drugs to enhance their effectiveness.

"The polypeptides punch holes in the membrane, which makes it very easy for other drugs to go through and bypass some of the drug-resistant mechanisms," Cheng said. "Together, they work even better than a single agent. "

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