Antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasingly bigger problem. These antibiotic resistant bacteria are also referred to as "super-bugs" and are one of the biggest issues facing humanity today. The over prescription and over use of antibiotics over the past few decades has caused the bacteria to evolve and become resistant to them. "In July 2014, the UK government commissioned the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) to address the ever-growing concern that superbugs, resistant to current antibiotics, could eventually evolve to the point that our drugs simply don't work. Economist Jim O'Neill, the Chairman of the Review on AMR, predicts that superbugs, if left unchecked, could kill up to 10 million people per year by 2050, equivalent to one person every three seconds." (Irving, 2016) This could "cast back into the dark ages of medicine" and many medicines would simply not work, making even routine procedures dangerous.
Bacteria is becoming more and more resistant to even the best antibiotics, leaving scientist searching high and low for new ones in nature. Potential bacteria has shown up in berries, honey, maple syrup, human breast milk, fungi, frog skin and platypus milk. Scientists are currently developing a range of new materials and drugs to fight the superbugs.
Recently a team from Australia and Spain have discovered a promising peptide in the venom of the South American Rattlesnake. The antibiotic candidate is found in the venom gland of the rattlesnakes. Previous research has found that the peptide crotalicidin has antimicrobial properties and that using only a certain fragment was just as effective at killing bacteria and was less toxic to healthy cells. The peptide boasts an electrostatic attraction to the surface area of bacteria attributing to its efficacy and safety for healthy cells. "The peptide is positive while the bacteria is negative, allowing it to kill the bacteria by inserting and disrupting the membrane," says Sónia Troeira Henriques, co-author of the study. "Because the cells in the body hosting the infection are neutral, they are not disrupted." (Irving, 2018) The new study put the peptide fragment up against bacteria like E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The treatments killed about 90% of the E. coli within 90-120 minutes and the same percentage of the Pseudomonas aeruginos in 5-30 minutes. These results have prompted researchers to continue studying the peptide in the hopes of eventually using it as the basis of a new antibiotic and will also continue on the hunt for peptides that perform similar functions.
"This is an example of taking what nature has given us and trying to understand how it works, so we can modify it to be more potent, more stable or more drug-like, to use as an alternative to what we have in our pharmacy now," says Henriques." (Irving, 2018)
You know what else kills Superbugs?
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Irving, M. (2016, May 20). Superbugs could kill 10 million people a year by 2050, report warns. Retrieved March 29, 2018, from https://newatlas.com/antimicrobial-resistance-review-calls-urgent-action/43443/
Irving, M. (2018, March 16). Rattlesnake venom extract helps strike back against superbugs. Retrieved March 29, 2018, from https://newatlas.com/rattlesnake-venom-antibiotic-superbugs/53832/?utm_source=Gizmag Subscribers&utm_campaign=1225d3f02e-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-1225d3f02e-76698122