HIV-derived antibacterial shows promise against drug-resistant bacteria

A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh has developed antibacterial compounds, derived from the outer coating of HIV, that could be potential treatments for drug-resistant bacterial infections and appear to avoid generating resistance. These new agents are quite small, making them inexpensive and easy to manufacture. The research was published in the June 2013 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The first of many probable applications will likely be the chronic bacterial infections in the lungs of "that frequently develop resistance to all standard antibiotics, and are the leading cause of death in these patients," says senior author Ronald Montelaro.

The lead compound shows powerful antibacterial activity against clinical isolates of diverse that are resistant to most antibiotics. These agents, called engineered cationic (eCAPs) "may be applicable to treatment of other respiratory infections, topical infections, and systemic infections," says Montelaro.

The genesis of the new agent was basic research on HIV envelope protein structure and function, says Montelaro. As part of this research, "we identified highly conserved unique that were predicted by computer modeling to assume structures characteristic of natural antibacterial peptides. Since antibacterial peptides specifically target and disrupt the integrity and function of bacterial membranes, we thought that these similar in the HIV envelope protein might contribute to toxicity and death in infected cells by altering cell membranes."

The team engineered the original HIV peptides for greater effectiveness and smaller size, the latter to reduce manufacturing expenses. The engineering involved modifying amino acid content (they contain just two different amino acids), peptide length, charge, and hydrophobicity. The current paper describes the third generation peptides. The lead agent contains just 12 amino acid residues.

"Another potential application is biodefense, where eCAPs may be used as a rapid postexposure aerosol treatment in individuals after exposure to aerosolized pathogens, where the goal of immediate treatment would be to rapidly reduce bacterial dose from a lethal to a nonlethal or subclinical level," says Montelaro.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

4 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

7 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments