MIT researchers transform wasp toxin into antibiotics | The New Times


WASHINGTON– American researchers have turned the toxin into wasps into potential antibiotic drugs that can eliminate bacterial infections that are difficult to cure.

In a study published in Nature Communications Biology last week, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created peptides that are potent against bacteria but not toxic to human cells.

They are variants of a peptide toxin normally found in a South American wasp that can kill bacteria, according to the study.

In the study of mice, the strongest peptide variant could completely eliminate a strain of bacteria that causes infections resistant to most antibiotics.

"We reused a toxic molecule in a viable molecule to treat infections," said Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT.

"By systematically analyzing the structure and function of these peptides, we were able to adjust their properties and activities," said de la Fuente-Nunez, a senior co-author on the study.

It is believed that the peptide derived from venom kills microbes by breaking down the membranes of bacterial cells, according to the study.

The researchers exposed peptide variants in laboratory-grown human embryonic kidney cells and selected the most promising compounds to test in mice infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common source of respiratory and urinary tract infections, and found that several of the peptides could reduce infection .

One of them, administered in high dose, could completely eliminate it, according to the study.

"After four days, this compound can completely eliminate the infection, and that was quite surprising and exciting because we do not normally see this with other experimental antimicrobials or other antibiotics we have tested in the past with this particular mouse model," said de la Fuente -Nunez.

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