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Scientists unveil secrets of important natural antibiotic
Date:2/21/2013

armful microbes.

Through a combination of techniques, scientists were able to determine the atomic structure of the molecular channel. They found that it is unusually long, permeable and adaptable, and so represents a new class of membrane protein.

The team also discovered that dermcidin can adapt to extremely variable types of membrane. Scientists say this could explain why active dermcidin is such an efficient broad-spectrum antibiotic, able to fend off bacteria and fungi at the same time.

The compound is active against many well-known pathogens such as tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, or Staphylococcus aureus. Multi-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, in particular, have become an increasing threat for hospital patients. They are insensitive towards conventional antibiotics and so are difficult to treat. Staphylococcus aureus infections can lead to life-threatening diseases such as sepsis and pneumonia. The international team of scientists hopes that their results can contribute to the development of a new class of antibiotics that is able to attack such dangerous germs.

Dr Ulrich Zachariae of the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics, who took part in the study, said: "Antibiotics are not only available on prescription. Our own bodies produce efficient substances to fend off bacteria, fungi and viruses. Now that we know in detail how these natural antibiotics work, we can use this to help develop infection-fighting drugs that are more effective than conventional antibiotics."


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Contact: Catriona Kelly
Catriona.Kelly@ed.ac.uk
44-131-651-4401
University of Edinburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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