They turned wasp venom into an antibiotic
The venom of insects, such as wasps and bees, is full of compounds that can kill bacteria. Unfortunately, many of these compounds are also toxic to humans, preventing their use as antibiotics. The problem was tackled by researchers at MIT.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in cooWorking with researchers at the Federal University of ABC in Brazil, they have carefully examined the properties of wasp venom Polybia paulista, ktora lives in South America. They succeeded in creating a venom variant thatory is not toxic to human comorek, but effectively eliminates bacteria.
In a study conducted on mice, the researchers found that the most potent variant they had developedoIn a peptide can completely eliminate Pseudomonas aeruginosa – bacterial strain resistant to most antibioticsoin whichory causes infections, Drog respiratory and other infections.
– We modified a toxic molecule into one thatora is capable of treating infections,” said Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez of MIT, first author of the publication. – By systematically analyzing the structure and function of these peptidesow, we were able to tune their properties and activity – added.
Many organismow, including human immune defense, produce compounds thatore can kill bacteria. In order to pomoc against the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, scientists prob They adapted these compounds to serve us as new drugs.
The peptide, whichory was described in the publication, was isolated from the wasp Polybia paulista. It is small enough (only 12 amino acidsow) for scientists to conclude that it is possible to sprob to create rotion of different variants of the compound and test them to see if they can become more potent against the microbialoin and less harmful to humans.
– It’s a small enough peptide that you can sprob to learn how each of its components contributes to antimicrobial activity and toxicity – explained mowi Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez.
Like many other compoundsoin antibacterial, researchers believe that the one derived from wasp venom kills microorganisms by damaging their cell membranesorkowe. The peptide has an alpha helix structure, o ktorej is known to interact strongly with the membranes of a comorkowe.
In the first phase of the study, the researchers created dozens of variants of theoin the original peptide, and then looked at how toob these changes affected the structure of the compoundow and their hydrophobicity, which roalso help determine how well the peptides interact with cell membranesorkowe. They then tested the created variants against seven strains of bacteria and twoom fungi, making it possible to correlate their structure and physicochemical properties with their antimicrobial properties.
On the basis of the identified structure-function relationships, the researchers designed another few dozen peptideoin for further testingow. They were able to identify the optimal percentage of amino acidsoin giving hydrophobic properties. They also identified a group of amino acidsoIn whichorej any changes weakened ogolna function of the molecule. To measure the toxicity of the peptideow researchers tested them on human embryonic comoThe peptide can completely eliminate the problem in kidney cells cultured in the lab.
In this wayob scientists have selected the most promising compounds to testoin infected mice Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the study, they found that several peptidesow can reduce the infection, and one of them, administered in a high dose, can eliminate it completely.
– After four days, the compound can completely remove the infection, which was quite surprising and exciting. We don’t usually observe such efficacy when working with other experimental antimicrobials or antibiotics – admitted Fuente-Nunez.
Scientists have begun to create additional variants thatore hopeful they will be able to clear infections at lower doses. They also plan to apply the approach developed in this research to other types ofoin naturally occurring compoundsow. – I believe that someore principles, whichors learned here may apply to other similar peptidesow. Things like protein structure and hydrophobicity are very important to many of these molecules, and someore of the rules thatohe things we have learned here can certainly be extrapolated – stated the scientist.
Sourceobackground: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photo. Charles J Sharp/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0