Scientists find protein to kill highly resistant bacteria

January 16th, 2009 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 16 (IANS) A new protein, isolated from tiny freshwater hydra, could be the answer to the highly resistant yet increasing numbers of bacteria and microbes. The protein hydramacin-1, identified by Joachim Grotzinger, Thomas Bosch and colleagues at the University of Kiel, is unusual as it is unlike any other known antibacterial proteins, except for two antimicrobials found in another ancient organism, the leech.

Hydramacin proved to be extremely effective though, in a series of lab experiments, killing a wide range of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, including clinically-isolated drug-resistant strains like Klebsiella oxytoca (a common cause of nosocomial infections).

Hydramacin works by sticking to the bacterial surface, promoting the clumping of nearby bacteria, then disrupting the bacterial membrane, said a Kiel release.

Grotzinger and his team also determined the 3-D shape of hydramacin-1, which revealed that it most closely resembled a superfamily of proteins found in scorpion venom; within this large group, they propose that hydramacin and the two leech proteins are members of a newly designated family called the macins.

These findings appeared in the Friday edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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