Antibiotics Improved by Marine Diatom Proteins

 
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:33 am    Post subject: Antibiotics Improved by Marine Diatom Proteins Reply with quote

Researchers in Florida are reporting an advance toward tapping the enormous potential of an emerging new group of antibiotics identical to certain germ-fighting proteins found in the human immune system. Their study, which may help fight the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections, is in the current (August) issue of ACS' Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.


Researchers report a step toward development of a new type of antibiotic using proteins from marine diatoms. The above diatoms were living between crystals of sea ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. (Photo Credit: Prof. Gordon T. Taylor, Stony Brook University, USA)

View this and four similar images on permanent display in the Smithsonian's “Science on Sphere” exhibit in the new Sant Ocean Hall (Museum of Natural History) in Washington, D.C. (See http://ocean.si.edu/ocean_hall/ , http://ocean.si.edu/ocean_hall/making_movies.html and http://ocean.si.edu/ocean_hall/press_releases/finalScienceOnASphereFactsheet.pdf )


In the new study, D. Matthew Eby, Glenn Johnson, and Karen Farrington point out that scientists have long eyed the germ-fighting potential of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). These small proteins fight a wide range of bacteria and fungi in the body and have the potential to be developed into powerful drugs to overcome infections that are resistant to conventional drugs. But scientists report difficulty producing effective AMPs because the antibiotics are fragile and easily destroyed in the body. An effective way to stabilize them is needed, they say.

The scientists discovered that some AMPs have properties similar to a shell-building protein derived from marine diatoms, microscopic algae, and that these protective properties may fit the bill. When an AMP was combined with certain minerals, the antibiotic developed a coating of silica nanoparticles. In laboratory studies, the researchers showed that the coating protected the antibiotics from destruction by other chemicals while allowing the release of a controlled antibiotic dose for an extended period of time. They say these features are key to the effective use of AMPs as antibiotics.

Source: http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=223&content_id=WPCP_010772&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1#P72_7100
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