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Pitt discovery holds potential in destroying drug-resistant bacteria
Date:5/7/2013

nt version of this sequence called engineered cationic antimicrobial peptides, or "eCAPs" that laboratory tests have shown to rapidly destroy bacteria that are otherwise resistant to most standard antibiotics.

The eCAPs can be assembled in a laboratory setting from the amino acids arginine and tryptophan and manufactured to the shortest effective length, giving the resulting antibiotic treatment maximum potency while reducing costs.

The discovery was featured in April at two prestigious gatherings intended to put scientists in touch with business developers -- the BIO International Convention in Chicago, and the University Research & Entrepreneurship Symposium (URES) in Boston.

"At both symposia, we received a lot of interest from pharmaceutical-related companies," said co-author Jonathan Steckbeck, Ph.D., M.B.A., post-doctoral associate at CVR. "It was a particular honor to be recognized at URES as one of the year's 10 breakthroughs in life sciences."

Pitt has taken out several U.S. and international patents on this discovery.

"We have an unmet clinical need for treatment of hospital-acquired infections where the bacteria are extremely resistant to antibiotics," said co-author Yohei Doi, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine in Pitt's School of Medicine. "We have patients with no treatment options left. The fact that these eCAPs are completely engineered puts them at an advantage because they can be manufactured easily, and they give us some hope for a quick-acting treatment in these dire circumstances."

Traditional antibiotics typically work by poisoning important metabolic processes after being taken up by the target bacteria, a process that may take hours, or days, to clear a bacterial infection. In contrast, the eCAPs are specifically attracted to the surface of target bacteria where they disrupt the bacterial membrane, causing death within seconds, or minutes.

Laboratory tests indicate t
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Contact: Allison Hydzik & Cyndy McGrath
hydzikam@upmc.edu
412-647-9975
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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