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Why we lick bleeding wounds
Many people know the reaction. You cut your finger, it starts to bleed and you instinctively put your finger in your mouth. You can give in to this instinct with a clear conscience, because certain substances are contained in the saliva that kill germs. It is a special peptide, a chain of amino acids, which has an antibacterial effect. Researchers at the University of Graz in cooperation with international colleagues have now succeeded in researching an antibacterial agent from human substances that is suitable for medical applications.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that around 25,000 people in the EU die each year from infections caused by resistant bacteria that they previously contracted in a healthcare facility. Antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasing problem and scientists are looking for solutions worldwide. Researchers at the University of Graz have now contributed to solving this problem in a study. They were able to use an active ingredient made from human substance for use in a drug that has an antibacterial effect - even with resistant bacteria. The results of the study were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Active ingredient against resistant bacteria
“There are certain substances in the body fluid that kill germs,” explains Dr. Nermina Malanovic and Prof. Dr. Karl Lohner from the Institute for Molecular Biosciences at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz in a press release on the study results. The active ingredient is a chain of amino acids that has an antibacterial effect. Such compounds are present in the human body not only in saliva, but also in the tear fluid and in white blood cells or on the skin. As part of an EU project, the two scientists from the University of Graz, together with the Dutch universities of Leiden and Amsterdam, were able to elucidate the underlying defense mechanism against bacteria.
Which active ingredient is it?
"The positively charged peptide called SAAP-148 dissolves the bacterial cell membranes, which consist of negatively charged phospholipids, and consequently destroys the bacteria," explains Nermina Malanovic. The active ingredient has been investigated using cell cultures and in animal experiments and has already been successfully tested in the form of a skin cream. The researchers see great potential in the new active ingredient, especially when used against the rapidly increasing number of antibiotic-resistant germs.
Effective against antibiotic-resistant germs
"We have found that this peptide also has an effective effect on those groups of bacteria that are particularly common and massive for the increasing antibiotic resistance under the acronym ESKAPE," reports the research team. According to the scientists, another great advantage of the peptides is that they can be synthesized easily and inexpensively.
Further projects are planned
A pharmaceutical company involved in the EU project is now planning to carry out further studies in cooperation with the University of Graz in order to optimize efficiency. A resistant biofilm made from the peptide for hip or knee prostheses is also conceivable in the future. (vb)