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Researchers develop an alternative to antibiotics

By Research in Germany

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI) in Leipzig have now made a significant advance in the fight against infectious diseases with the discovery of an alternative to established antibiotics.

Researchers develop an alternative to antibiotics© Fraunhofer IZIThis image demonstrates how antimicrobial peptides can prevent the growth of bacteria - in this case, Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium that causes tooth decay
What are known as antimicrobial peptides could help to kill germs and other pathogens in the future. These peptides would give physicians an additional means of treatment that could supplement or even completely replace penicillin and other antibiotics. When it comes to the treatment of infectious diseases, more and more bacteria are becoming immune to known antibiotics.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued warnings about growing resistance and attributes the increasing spread of resistant pathogens to the indiscriminate use of penicillin and other antibiotics. In their work on antimicrobial peptides, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have already identified some 20 of these short chains of amino acids that kill numerous microbes. "They include enterococci, yeasts and moulds, as well as human pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, which is found in the human oral cavity and causes tooth decay. Not even the multiresistant hospital bug Staphylococcus aureus is immune, and in our tests its growth was considerably inhibited," says Dr. Andreas Schubert, group manager at Fraunhofer IZI.

Furthermore, the identified peptides do not harm healthy body cells. Schubert and his team are convinced that there are a large number of possible applications for the peptides. The food industry could also benefit: added to food products, for example, peptides could improve their shelf-life and combat germs.

More information:

Dr. Andreas Schubert, Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology

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