MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Make no bones about it, a discovery by a Kansas State University research team could mean a longer and healthier life for man's best friend.
University researchers Tonatiuh Melgarejo, an associate professor of human nutrition; Frank Blecha, distinguished professor of immunophysiology; and Yongming Sang and Maria Ortega, former postdoctoral fellows, isolated and characterized a natural antimicrobial peptide that helps dogs to better fight pathogens -- including different bacteria, viruses and fungi.
The peptide's characteristics and production method were recently issued as a patent titled "Antimicrobial Cathelicidin Peptides" to the Kansas State University Research Foundation, a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing the technology transfer activities of the university.
Researchers modeled the synthetic canine antimicrobial on a naturally occurring peptide found in the white blood cells of dogs, then tested it against numerous types of viruses, fungi and bacteria.
"It turned out it's really good at killing these microorganisms," Melgarejo said. "We suspected we had something that could really improve animal health, and maybe eventually human health."
The study that led to the synthetic antibody began in 2003, as Melgarejo and colleagues intended to find the antimicrobial peptides -- or antibodies -- responsible for canine immunity. Up to that point little data had been collected about the animal's immunology.
"Every single living creature on Earth -- animals, plants, insects and even bacteria -- produce some type of antimicrobial peptides," Melgarejo said. "These peptides are very small molecules that kill microbes like bacteria, viruses and yeast. It's a fairly simple defensive system, and everything from bacteria to humans produce these peptides."
According to Melgarejo, the antimicrobial peptides that each species produces are unique and hardwired to an organism's DNA,
|Contact: Tonatiuh Melgarejo|
Kansas State University