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Wasp sting to antibiotic

Scientists have discovered that some of the components of the wasp sting are very potent bacteria-killers. This could be very important for treating antibiotic-resistant germs.

Scientists have discovered that some of the components of the wasp sting are very potent bacteria-killers.1 This could be very important for treating antibiotic-resistant germs.

wasp

An MIT doctor investigated several of these components, called antimicrobial peptides (AMPs)—essentially tiny proteins only 12 units long. They have a positive charge, a spiral structure, and a water-repellent part, a combination thought to poke holes in the bacteria's cell walls.

One of these AMPs, in its raw form, was toxic to humans as well. However, the team made only minor modifications, and developed a form that would not hurt human cells.

Then they tested these modified proteins on diseased mice.

"After four days, that compound can completely clear the infection, and that was quite surprising and exciting because we don't typically see that with other experimental antimicrobials or other antibiotics that we've tested in the past with this particular mouse model."2

Researchers have also found that a toxin in wasp venom kills cancer cells—without harming healthy ones. The molecule MP1 targets lipids which are abnormally distributed on the surface of cancer cells, destroying them. While the treatment is not being tested on humans yet, laboratory tests so far seem promising.3

References

  1. MIT, Engineers repurpose wasp venom as an antibiotic drug, sciencedaily.com,7 December 2018.
  2. Torres, M.D.T. and 11 others, Structure-function-guided exploration of the antimicrobial peptide polybia-CP identifies activity determinants and generates synthetic therapeutic candidates, Nature Communications Biology 1:221, 7 December 2018 | doi:10.1038/s42003-018-0224-2.
  3. Smith-Strickland, K., Wasp venom selectively assassinates cancer cells, Discover, blogs.discovermagazine.com, 1 September 2015.
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