Engineers develop peptide to fight antibiotic resistance
2 Nov 2016
A team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed an antimicrobial peptide that can destroy many types of bacteria, including some that are resistant to most antibiotics, the institution says.
The researchers think the peptide is of interest because it could provide a new alternative for treating these infectious diseases which, according to a recent study, will kill 10 million people per year, if no new drugs are developed.
One of our main goals is to provide solutions to try to combat antibiotic resistance
MIT postdoc Cesar de la Fuente
According to MIT, antimicrobial peptides, produced by all living organisms as part of their immune defences, kill microbes in several different ways. First, they bore holes in the invaders’ cell membranes. Once inside, they can disrupt several cellular targets, including DNA, RNA, and proteins.
These peptides can also recruit the host’s immune system, summoning cells called leukocytes that secrete chemicals that help kill the invading microbes, MIT added.
MIT postdoc Cesar de la Fuente, who is the corresponding author of the new study, said: “One of our main goals is to provide solutions to try to combat antibiotic resistance.”
Discussing the benefits of engineering peptides, de la Fuente added: “You can tailor their sequences in such a way that you can tune them for specific functions. We have the computational power to try to generate therapeutics that can make it to the clinic and have an impact on society.”
The researchers suggest that if specially-engineered peptides, like the one they have created, are developed for therapeutic use, they could be administered as either a stand-alone therapy or with traditional antibiotics, making it more difficult for bacteria to evolve drug resistance.
According to MIT, the researchers are now attempting to understand what it is that makes the engineered peptides more effective than naturally occurring ones, with hopes of making them even better.
A full account of the research has been published in Scientific Reports.